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[Susan notes: The writer makes solid points.]

Published in New York Times
05/22/2004

To the editor

Re "Indiana Student Essays Being Graded by Computers" (Education page, May 19):



Having computers grade essays based on correctness is as wrong-minded as evaluating paintings based on whether the artist stayed between the lines. An essay is not simply a series of grammatically correct sentences; it is a piece of writing composed with a particular audience people in mind, flavored with originality.



The most disturbing aspect of a possible trend toward computer-evaluated essays is that it fosters dull, homogenous writing, eschewing creativity in favor of accuracy.



As an instructor of university undergraduate composition courses, I have seen my share of technically correct, boring essays. Students have become so stifled by their attempt to stick to formulaic writing learned in high school that they need to start all over learning to hash out ideas and compose interesting, well-written essays.



Katie Hughes


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