Computer system helping students improve writing skills - - Columbia, South Carolina

Computer system helping students improve writing skills

(Columbia) Jan. 31, 2003 - Darin Hornsby is a ninth grader who used to have problems writing, but now he's knocking out essays in a snap thanks to a new program called MyAccess, "It's improved me a lot. It gives a lot of information on how to make your writing better."

Students log onto the MyAccess web site and begin writing their essay. The program looks at things like content, sentence construction, thought processing, grammar and spelling, then instantly highlights trouble spots and gives students an estimated grade.

Students can then make revisions to improve their score. Scott Elliot, PhD, a human communication specialist at Vantage Learning, says, "We know that the more students write and the more feedback they receive, the more likely they are to improve their writing performance."

The web site's grading system uses artificial intelligence. MyAccess "learned" to grade essays using a database of hundreds of different writing examples. Ninth grade English teacher Lilly Bozigian says, "If I were to do this at home, it would take me two to three days ... turnaround time for me to give them back their essay. This gives it back to them in two seconds."

In a few years the grading system will be used to score the essay portion of the writing portions of the SAT. Dr. Elliot says, "IntelliMetric can maintain a consistent and accurate scoring standard across people and across occasions."

MyAccess has made a lasting impression on Darin and his parents, too, who've seen his progress go from good to even better, "They have papers saved from when I was young and how I used to write, and now how I am, and there's a big improvement."

Students can use MyAccess at school or at home. Schools pay for the licensed service. The automated grading system is also being expanded to improve student skills in science, social studies, math and foreign languages.

by Hannah Nelson

posted 2:53pm by Chris Rees

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