Monday, April 11, 2005

Spring Ain't Sprung

If you teach a course on peer tutoring, you might have a crew of future tutors with spring fever--eager to practice with students, chomping to work in the writing center. Students in my course start their internships this week and last week we talked about their concerns and their anxieties--their perception of readiness; a few worried about not knowing enough.

It seems a comfort to them to know that one of the richest men in world, Bill Gates, doesn't know enough either. From today's Chronicle of Higher Education:

AN ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR of marketing and e-commerce at the University of Washington has dedicated himself to chronicling the blind spots of the grammar checker in Microsoft Word, and to persuading the software company to improve the tool.

"But how much good does the grammar checker actually do? Precious little, according to Sandeep Krishnamurthy, an associate professor of marketing and e-commerce at the University of Washington. After experimenting with the tool, Mr. Krishnamurthy concluded that it cannot identify many basic grammatical faux pas -- like errors in capitalization, punctuation, and verb tense."

See the professor's web page dedicated to this critique.

What do you think about grammar check? Machine scoring? Machine teaching? See the WPA archive to read a recent discussion on this:

More later . . .



At 6:22 AM, Blogger /WCJ/ said...

A link I posted awhile back on WPA-L is a future for automated tutoring that's more frightening than Bill Gates and his lousy grammar checker. Here's the abstract and link to the article.


Journal of Educational Computing Research
29.2 (2003): 169-187


A Computer Tutor for Writers (CTW) was designed to provide procedural
facilitation to high school students while they learn the skills and
knowledge associated with composition writing. Four previous year-long studies helped identify how to facilitate specific elements of the writing process. The CTW was designed to combine lessons learned from these previous studies, and provide a comprehensive support system in which students could
complete classroom writing assignments. Additional factors influencing the design of the CTW were field input from high school English teachers,cognitive research into the writing process, and the cognitive apprenticeship instructional strategy. A test and evaluation of the CTW conducted during a full school-year with regular writing classes produced
writing achievement gains of up to one letter grade above control groups (N = 471). Teachers and students reported that the CTW appeared to improve both the ability of students to follow a complete writing process and their ability to achieve related learning objectives.

At 7:33 AM, Blogger Tamara Miles said...

Check this out.

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