Revising in response to formative feedback is a cornerstone of effective writing instruction. Providing substantive comments on stacks of student essays, however, is highly time-consuming for busy teachers. As a result, teachers can be reluctant to assign many essays that require students to produce multiple drafts or provide extensive comments on early drafts of students’ writing.
Automated writing evaluation (AWE) systems offer a promising approach to relieving the burden of giving formative feedback to students on their writing. These systems employ natural language processing technologies to provide automated feedback messages to students to guide their revisions.
Despite the potential of AWE systems to support writing instruction, they have not been widely adopted by schools or teachers. Computer scientists and literacy researchers have been the main architects of AWE systems. Teachers, however, are the experts on managing the daily tasks of instruction, and their voices have largely been left out of the development of AWE systems. What do teachers want to see in AWE systems so that such technology can be integrated in their teaching, rather than ‘one more thing’ added to their classroom schedules?
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We asked teachers this question in our research developing an AWE system called eRevise. eRevise provides automated feedback to improve fifth and sixth grade students’ use of text evidence in their argument writing essays.