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Outsourced Grading of College Papers By Minnesotastan in… 
15th-Apr-2010 11:05 am
Mr Ostrich

Outsourced Grading of College Papers
By Minnesotastan in Everything Else on Apr 10, 2010 at 10:18 pm

Corporations have taken advantage of outsourcing for decades; the process lowers costs and often allows services to be provided which could not be otherwise accommodated. Now some university faculty believe the same principle can be applied to the task of grading papers written by undergraduates.

The graders working for EduMetry, based in a Virginia suburb of Washington, are concentrated in India, Singapore, and Malaysia, along with some in the United States and elsewhere. They do their work online and communicate with professors via e-mail. The company advertises that its graders hold advanced degrees and can quickly turn around assignments with sophisticated commentary, because they are not juggling their own course work, too…

The assessors use technology that allows them to embed comments in each document; professors can review the results (and edit them if they choose) before passing assignments back to students. In addition, professors receive a summary of comments from each assignment, designed to show common “trouble spots” among students’ answers, among other things.

Critics decry the lack of personal relationship between teacher and student, but defenders of the process counter that grading in the past has often been done by teaching assistants, and the use of “virtual TAs” in the Indian subcontinent is not fundamentally different. The process is not inexpensive; one example cited at the link indicates a cost of $12 per assignment per student.

The responses of students and the reactions of faculty at various universities, graduate schools, and community colleges is discussed in the excellent article at The Chronicle of Higher Education. Not discussed at the link is to what extent the papers being outsourced for grading were outsourced by the students to be written by someone

From: Neatorama
15th-Apr-2010 03:11 pm (UTC)
Oh good, now I can join the throngs of unemployed bitching about how the foreigners stole my job.

Silver lining and all that.
15th-Apr-2010 03:12 pm (UTC)
The assessors use technology that allows them to embed comments in each document; professors can review the results (and edit them if they choose) before passing assignments back to students.

Won't the professors have to read the papers themselves in order to effectively edit the comments in which case they're paying someone to grade the assignment and then re-grading it?
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15th-Apr-2010 05:05 pm (UTC)
15th-Apr-2010 05:43 pm (UTC)
So would I. However, upon consideration of my past experience with temp and other hiring agencies, I'd suggest that the person doing the grading gets far less than this.
15th-Apr-2010 07:21 pm (UTC)
15th-Apr-2010 03:43 pm (UTC)
15th-Apr-2010 03:58 pm (UTC)
For my department's average course load, that would be 900 bucks per assignment to get an entire term's set of students done. And that's ONE assignment. o_O
15th-Apr-2010 04:51 pm (UTC)
This is probably the reason why the programmes and courses mentioned in the CHE article are business schools. They have the money.
15th-Apr-2010 05:05 pm (UTC)
Yeah, but is that really a good use of those funds?
15th-Apr-2010 05:38 pm (UTC)
The article at CHE says "We definitely have a cost-benefit ratio that's completely in our favor for us to do this," Ms. Whitener says. because students don't drop out. They purportedly stay in the courses because they are getting more detailed feeback from the outsourced graders.
15th-Apr-2010 04:11 pm (UTC)
I'd be outraged, but for the life of me I don't see the difference between outsourcing grading to graduate students and outsourcing grading to a private contractor.
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15th-Apr-2010 05:04 pm (UTC)
I'd go with the "or something." I'm not convinced that dumping the grading on TAs is really about helping them become better professors. Some, sure, because there are some professors who grade with their TAs, and so share in the work and help them develop as teachers. But for those professors who just dump all the grading on their TAs (and note here ever year the various TAs who post in a_a asking advice on grading because their profs are absentee mentors), it's really not all that different.

Now if the TAs aren't qualified, then outsourcing is a very good idea, as it's likely easier than re-tooling their graduate program to produce better TAs. But I would think twice before applying there for graduate school, knowing that they admit and produce sub-par academics.
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15th-Apr-2010 05:32 pm (UTC)
Agreed. Just from the position of a business model, I'd be leery about doing business with a company that employs people who are so bad at their jobs that the work must be outsourced. "Don't pay for the same work twice" seems like something that should be covered in business schools.
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15th-Apr-2010 07:02 pm (UTC)
Yeah, but it's a business school. Most of the people in there are learning how to be incompetent.
15th-Apr-2010 07:05 pm (UTC)
Nice one!
15th-Apr-2010 07:07 pm (UTC)
Business schools have always been ahead of the curve when it comes to advances in pedagogy.
15th-Apr-2010 04:45 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I was going to say that if this strategy leads universities to stop admitting way more graduate students than the field needs it might not be so bad.
15th-Apr-2010 05:05 pm (UTC)
I don't have a problem with admitting large numbers of graduate students, but that's because I don't think we should tell people not to pursue an education if they want it. But we should be a bit more transparent about what happens to those graduate students.
15th-Apr-2010 04:48 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a good reason to hike up tuition next year.
15th-Apr-2010 05:09 pm (UTC) - Education: What an elaborate charade.
I think this is hilarious in the worst sort of way!

Students outsource the writing of their papers, profs outsource the marking of those same papers...

15th-Apr-2010 05:13 pm (UTC) - Re: Education: What an elaborate charade.
The obvious thing is to bring the two together, so that all essays ordered come assessed and marked for convenience.
15th-Apr-2010 05:48 pm (UTC) - Re: Education: What an elaborate charade.
Not really surprised to see you on here - hi mate. :)
15th-Apr-2010 05:38 pm (UTC)
one example cited at the link indicates a cost of $12 per assignment per student.

That can't be right. That's way more than any grad student gets paid for grading.
15th-Apr-2010 05:42 pm (UTC)
Based on my experience with temp agencies and similar hiring companies, I imagine that a big portion of this is kept by the outsourcing company. The graders probably get about half of that.
15th-Apr-2010 08:10 pm (UTC)
"The assessors use technology that allows them to embed comments in each document.."

So they use the Review function in Microsoft Office? Ohhh...thats high tech right there!

I could see this working for a very rote assignment, but I find it a bit depressing that it would be used to grade assignments that require critical thinking/writing skills.
16th-Apr-2010 01:43 am (UTC)
that's funny, in my experience it's grading the critical thinking assignments that leads to depression.
15th-Apr-2010 11:33 pm (UTC)
"Assessing learning can take months, if not years. By delegating the facilitation and mechanics of assessment to EduMetry, your institution can save much time and hard work." http://edumetry.com/benefits.php

Soon available in easy-to-swallow capsule form!
16th-Apr-2010 01:17 am (UTC)
Better than as a suppository!
16th-Apr-2010 01:42 am (UTC)
If laziness and the abrogation of responsibility weren't such trendy virtues these days, EduMetry's dissing of "hard work" should raise hackles as well as suspicions.

But to Hell with it. This is just the beginning. Next stop? Harvesting students' organs while they sleep, and selling 'em on the black market.
16th-Apr-2010 02:00 am (UTC)
Well if you are going to harvest their livers, do it in first year before 4 years of pubbing put too much mileage on them. To borrow a popular phrase in those articles, it won't be cost-effective if you wait.
16th-Apr-2010 02:04 am (UTC)
Exactly. Do it to them before they do it to themselves.

If they can't write essays whilst sporting one kidney and an eyepatch, then they have no business going to college.
19th-Apr-2010 11:33 am (UTC)
If I were working for this rate, instead of a TA rate, I would be paid $1,680 for the 140 papers I am currently grading. Instead, that's nearly a month's worth of pay for me.

$12 an assignment seems so expensive that it won't be used much. Graduate students are cheap compared to this.
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