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July 20th, 2011
Writing software teaches students how to correct their own mistakes
Programs also give teachers feedback on their students’ improvement
Students struggling with writing tend to fall behind in multiple disciplines; however, it can be hard to correct their writing behavior effectively on an individual basis. Amid all of their other demands, many teachers simply don’t have the time to grade student essays every night. That’s where software programs such as SAS Curriculum Pathways’ Writing Reviser come in, users say.
“One of the things that we’d been hearing from teachers was that writing—particularly the review process, and getting students to understand revision—was a skill that a lot of students struggled with,” said SAS Curriculum Pathways Director Bruce Friend. In response to this demand, SAS added Writing Reviser to its Curriculum Pathways program in 2007.
“What Writing Reviser specifically does is take [students’] narrative work and give them feedback on areas where they could improve,” Friend said. The program scores students through feedback in areas such as wordiness, overuse of prepositional phrases, or clichéd jargon, and it provides constructive feedback through artificial intelligence.
“A real strength of Writing Reviser is to give the student nonthreatening feedback,” said Friend.
Katie Higgins, an English teacher at Mooresville High School in North Carolina, is an advocate for the software.
“I’ve used it in the classroom for whole-group instruction, as well as with peer editing and revising in small groups. For homework assignments, I’ll have them use Writing Reviser at home as well,” Higgins said.
One of the boons of Writing Reviser is that it doesn’t automatically correct students’ work for them, instead forcing them to rewrite and edit themselves based on its suggestions.