Using Automated Feedback to Improve Writing Quality: Opportunities and Challenges

Using Automated Feedback to Improve Writing Quality: Opportunities and Challenges

Joshua Wilson (University of Delaware, USA) and Gilbert N. Andrada (Connecticut State Department of Education, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9441-5.ch026
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Writing skills are essential for success in K-12 and post-secondary settings. Yet, more than two-thirds of students in the United States fail to achieve grade-level proficiency in writing. The current chapter discusses the use of automated essay evaluation (AEE) software, specifically automated feedback systems, for scaffolding improvements in writing skills. The authors first present a discussion of the use of AEE systems, prevailing criticisms, and findings from the research literature. Then, results of a novel study of the effects of automated feedback are reported. The chapter concludes with a discussion of implications for stakeholders and directions for future research.
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Purpose Of The Present Chapter

Recent reform efforts have moved writing instruction, and the application of technology within instruction, to the forefront of stakeholders’ minds in a way hitherto unseen in the 21st century. Consequently, AEE systems are increasing their visibility and adoption as learning tools within school settings. However, there are mixed findings from empirical research on the effects of automated feedback on writing quality. Thus, to aid stakeholders interested in the use of AEE and automated feedback for improving writing skills, the remainder of this chapter will:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Prompt: An item used as a stimulus to elicit a writing sample from a student or test-taker.

Rubric: A scoring tool that defines evaluation criteria, and which demarcates levels of quality for those criteria.

Holistic Scoring: A method of evaluating written text that assigns a single score based on the overall quality of the text.

Analytic Scoring: A method of evaluating written text that assigns individual scores to separate aspects of writing quality, such as organization, ideas, sentence structure, word choice, and mechanics.

Feedback: Information provided to a learner regarding specific aspects of his/her task performance or conceptual understanding.

Automated Essay Evaluation: A term used to describe any number of computerized essay evaluation programs designed for use in educational settings.

Process Model of Writing Instruction: A method of writing instruction characterized by teaching writing in multiple stages—planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing—using mini-lessons to teach skills and strategies for engaging in each stage of writing.

Automated Feedback: Information provided to a learner from a computerized source (e.g., software program) about the learner’s task performance.

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