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posted by hubie on Monday March 11, @03:43PM   Printer-friendly
from the complaints-department-5000-miles-> dept.

https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2024/03/some-teachers-are-now-using-chatgpt-to-grade-papers/

In a notable shift toward sanctioned use of AI in schools, some educators in grades 3–12 are now using a ChatGPT-powered grading tool called Writable, reports Axios. The tool, acquired last summer by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is designed to streamline the grading process, potentially offering time-saving benefits for teachers. But is it a good idea to outsource critical feedback to a machine?
[...]
"Make feedback more actionable with AI suggestions delivered to teachers as the writing happens," Writable promises on its AI website. "Target specific areas for improvement with powerful, rubric-aligned comments, and save grading time with AI-generated draft scores." The service also provides AI-written writing-prompt suggestions: "Input any topic and instantly receive unique prompts that engage students and are tailored to your classroom needs."
[...]
The reliance on AI for grading will likely have drawbacks. Automated grading might encourage some educators to take shortcuts, diminishing the value of personalized feedback. Over time, the augmentation from AI may allow teachers to be less familiar with the material they are teaching. The use of cloud-based AI tools may have privacy implications for teachers and students. Also, ChatGPT isn't a perfect analyst. It can get things wrong and potentially confabulate (make up) false information, possibly misinterpret a student's work, or provide erroneous information in lesson plans.
[...]
there's a divide among parents regarding the use of AI in evaluating students' academic performance. A recent poll of parents revealed mixed opinions, with nearly half of the respondents open to the idea of AI-assisted grading.

As the generative AI craze permeates every space, it's no surprise that Writable isn't the only AI-powered grading tool on the market. Others include Crowdmark, Gradescope, and EssayGrader. McGraw Hill is reportedly developing similar technology aimed at enhancing teacher assessment and feedback.

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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Freeman on Monday March 11, @03:58PM (26 children)

    by Freeman (732) on Monday March 11, @03:58PM (#1348256) Journal

    Adults like to be lazy too. Teachers are no exception to the rule. Still, this seems like a bridge too far. The students are required to do the work. Assuming you do use a tool for grading. Please make sure it's a lot more reliable than the likes of ChatGPT.

    --
    Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by tangomargarine on Monday March 11, @06:05PM (3 children)

      by tangomargarine (667) on Monday March 11, @06:05PM (#1348275)

      Adults like to be lazy too. Teachers are no exception to the rule. Still, this seems like a bridge too far. The students are required to do the work.

      If the teacher isn't grading it themself, why should the student be required to write it themself? An actual reason, not "because I said so".

      --
      "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
      • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Monday March 11, @08:20PM

        by Freeman (732) on Monday March 11, @08:20PM (#1348302) Journal

        The teacher or a teacher's aide should be grading it themselves. Though with the likes of standardized tests, the answer is that there's already a system in place for grading. Probably an extremely awful one. Kids still manage to learn, despite the systems best efforts, though.

        --
        Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
      • (Score: 2) by acid andy on Tuesday March 12, @09:38AM (1 child)

        by acid andy (1683) on Tuesday March 12, @09:38AM (#1348386) Homepage Journal

        Exactly. It's do as I say, not as I do. It sets a terrible example and will make it look like the teachers are too dumb to understand their own course material, IMNSHO.

        --
        Consumerism is poison.
        • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Tuesday March 12, @02:28PM

          by hendrikboom (1125) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 12, @02:28PM (#1348409) Homepage Journal

          Teachers may indeed be too dumb to understand their own course material.
          There's a lot of variation in ability among teachers.
          Especially math teachers often do not understand mathematics, perhaps because long ago *their* teachers didn't either. Or because they're really literature teachers pressed into service in math because of a math teacher shortage.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by mcgrew on Monday March 11, @06:07PM (11 children)

      by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Monday March 11, @06:07PM (#1348276) Homepage Journal

      Lazy, my ass. Teachers are overworked and underpaid, at least American public school teachers. ChatGPT shouldn't be used in a college setting, but primary and high school grades, why not take some of the burden off of that poor, overworked soul?

      --
      mcgrewbooks.com mcgrew.info nooze.org
      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Freeman on Monday March 11, @08:00PM (2 children)

        by Freeman (732) on Monday March 11, @08:00PM (#1348297) Journal

        I get that a lot of teachers are overworked and underpaid. Introducing a wildly inaccurate tool to do a job that can permanently affect young kids, sounds like a bad idea. Teachers have teacher's aides for a reason. When you note that doing things X way are hard and it's taking too long. Using a wildly inaccurate tool to get the job "done" isn't going to make things better.

        --
        Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by aafcac on Monday March 11, @10:12PM

          by aafcac (17646) on Monday March 11, @10:12PM (#1348325)

          Yes, the solution to the problem isn't using an ML tool that may have unknown issues. It reminds me of the ML program that rated rulers as a risk factor for cancer because it appeared in so many photos that turned out to be of skin cancers.

          I remember decades ago being warned not to let Bill Gates correct my work. Spelling and grammar checks at the time were rather primitive, but the situation hasn't necessarily improved enough to even consider using ML for this.

          That being said, not every teacher gets an aid, but there are other ways of getting students timely feedback other than farming it out to ML. Things like peer review and discussing each other's work can be just as effective when done properly as grading the paper.

        • (Score: 5, Touché) by acid andy on Tuesday March 12, @09:35AM

          by acid andy (1683) on Tuesday March 12, @09:35AM (#1348385) Homepage Journal

          Well I guess the kids will learn early that the system is highly unjust and to be highly critical of anything someone in authority tells you. At least, the ones smart enough to notice will. Seems like a better lesson than the regular programming.

          --
          Consumerism is poison.
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Reziac on Tuesday March 12, @03:05AM (7 children)

        by Reziac (2489) on Tuesday March 12, @03:05AM (#1348358) Homepage

        What is your definition of overworked and underpaid? Serious question. Because while I don't claim to know what's fair, I'm tired of "overworked and underpaid" being stated with no attached evidence.

        Should they be paid for results, like everyone else who is supposed to produce a product (in this case an educated child)??

        I recently had cause to look up teacher salaries in California (admittedly an expensive place to live, but not THAT much more than everywhere else -- having lived both there and here, the diff is about 20%) and it was running around $100k/year, for 9 working months.

        In many systems the number of administrators has exploded. When I was in school the ratio of teachers to admin was about 50:1; last I looked in CA it was 4:1. How may of those do real work, why are they paid as much as $600k/year, and how much more of that money should be going to teachers? (And however did we get along without so much admin until relatively recently??)

        --
        And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
        • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Common Joe on Tuesday March 12, @03:21AM (2 children)

          by Common Joe (33) <common.joe.0101NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday March 12, @03:21AM (#1348364) Journal

          What is your definition of overworked and underpaid?

          Valid question which I won't answer in details because it's pretty much a cliche that 90+% of the population is overworked and underpaid. However, I will say my friend works three jobs to make ends meet, and only one of those jobs is teacher. To me, that is the epitome of overworked and underpaid.

          Your point about administrators is spot on, though. We are too top heavy. In fact, I rather believe a large part of all of our problems (not just education) is simply because of bureaucratic incompetence and chaos.

          • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Tuesday March 12, @03:29AM

            by Reziac (2489) on Tuesday March 12, @03:29AM (#1348367) Homepage

            "I rather believe a large part of all of our problems (not just education) is simply because of bureaucratic incompetence and chaos."

            There ya go. Bureaucracy has become Junk Fills the Space Allotted. And they're doing the allotting.

            Pournelle's Iron Law in action.

            --
            And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
          • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Tuesday March 12, @02:26PM

            by Freeman (732) on Tuesday March 12, @02:26PM (#1348408) Journal

            How are you supposed to be able to hold a job while incompetent without a little (or a lot) of chaos?

            --
            Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
        • (Score: 5, Informative) by VLM on Tuesday March 12, @07:48PM (1 child)

          by VLM (445) on Tuesday March 12, @07:48PM (#1348446)

          last I looked in CA it was 4:1

          You're pretty far behind the times. Here's a nice federal website

          https://nces.ed.gov/ccd/districtsearch/ [ed.gov]

          I live in a civilized area, aka far away from the coasts. The school district my kids attended has approx 800 licensed teachers, oddly more secondary than elementary although not by much (I always thought when I was a kid secondary had larger classes than primary, but they have more secondary teachers total than primary, weird). The "Other Staff" is 650 FTE so your ratio is rapidly nearing 1:1 now. About 125 are instructional aides making about $11/hr. That has a high paying pyramid of supervisors of course (they don't directly report to teachers, they have 15 supervisors for the 125 aides to report to). There's about two dozen guidance counselors, they do approximately nothing AFAIK. Roughly one psych and one librarian per building and 0.5 assistant librarians per building (Used to have three minimum wage assistants per secondary library when I was a kid and people still read books; not entirely clear what the library does in this era of all kids having an iPad...) Each building has roughly one district level admin, two district level admin support, two local admins (principals and asst principals) and two local admin support (school secretary type ladies). About 250 are in support services which includes everyone from janitors to groundskeepers to lunch ladies, essentially the blue collar people who make the school "go" but do not teach or "administer".

          Schools in my state contract out for bus service but have W2 employee lunch ladies, it seems every district in the country is randomly different so ratios will vary a little.

          I would hazard a guess that employment patterns aside from firing two library aides per school has not changed since I attended gen-x schools, but allocation has changed such that lunch ladies, teachers aides, and janitors are now budgeted as admin staff, resulting in the new era of roughly 1:1 ratio of licensed classroom teachers vs admin staff.

          Note that the two fired library aides make $18.48 today per an independent Google search. So, more than McDonalds, but less than Panda Express that pays $25/hr. And $18.48 sounds bad but it comes with benefits in this district. Bus drivers make $22.50 no bennies off an independent-ish contractor and it's kind of an indentured servant or slavery scam where they pay for 'free' CDL but you are their slave if you don't work for more than, I believe, two years at $22.50, I am told they "claim" the CDL training is worth $15K or something like that if you want to quit early. Your typical CDL makes $35/hr in my town according to Google (not max or min, average) so essentially all bus drivers quit every other year. They're having severe bus staffing problems in this district. If they just paid $35 they wouldn't have staffing and training problems, but the usual penny wise pound foolish stuff...

          In my district the feds provide pocket change, state income tax provides about 40% and local property tax provides about 60% of funding. They pay about $17K per student per year, which isn't that much compared to college tuition (and this includes lunch which somehow costs damn near $2K/kid/year AFTER the parents partial pay for lunch) As a point of comparison in my district they spend about the same amount per year per kid on capex (mostly construction) as they do on 'non-instructional support and admin'

          • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Wednesday March 13, @01:14AM

            by Reziac (2489) on Wednesday March 13, @01:14AM (#1348483) Homepage

            Behind, indeed (probably been ten years since I looked). I knew some universities had more administrators than professors, but didn't know the infection had penetrated down to lowly public schools!

            I expect a good half of the staff bloat is trying to keep up with Dept of Edu BS... how about we abolish that and see how it goes??

            --
            And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
        • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Thursday March 14, @08:22PM (1 child)

          by mcgrew (701) <publish@mcgrewbooks.com> on Thursday March 14, @08:22PM (#1348796) Homepage Journal

          Overworked is spending eight hours on the job, six teaching classes and two performing other duties, then spending a few hours at home grading papers. Underpaid? What other profession requiring a bachelor's degree pays so little? Before Carrie was published, Stephen King was a high school English teacher whose wife worked in a laundromat. This was around 1970 when one paycheck usually raised a family. They lived in a house trailer and drove an old junker and couldn't afford a telephone. Citation: two of his books, On Writing and Secret Windows.

          That's typical, and it's being underpaid.

          --
          mcgrewbooks.com mcgrew.info nooze.org
          • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Thursday March 14, @08:46PM

            by Reziac (2489) on Thursday March 14, @08:46PM (#1348806) Homepage

            Consider: if teachers didn't assign so much homework, there wouldn't be so much to grade.

            There's the problem my friend ran into with his sixth grader -- six hours of homework every damn day, because every teacher assigned it like theirs was the kid's only class. That's nuts, and it doesn't teach, it just exhausts everyone.

            When I was in school, we had little to no homework until high school (none of any sort before 7th grade) and not much then. One page worth for about half our classes was a typical high school day. And we were demonstrably better-educated than what comes out of schools today.

            As I said I don't claim to know what's fair. But seems to me they're making their own beds here. If you don't want six hours of grading after hours, don't assign so damned much makework.

            As to degrees vs...
            https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/pay-salary/average-salary-for-college-graduates [indeed.com]

            CA average teacher's salary, when I looked it up a couple years ago, was $100k/yr.

            And I'm sure the union looks out for their best interests. /sarc

            --
            And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
    • (Score: 4, Funny) by looorg on Monday March 11, @06:28PM (4 children)

      by looorg (578) on Monday March 11, @06:28PM (#1348283)

      Teachers use ChatGPT to create the assignments, the students use ChatGPT so "solve" the assignments, teachers use ChatGPT to grade the assignments. Why not just cut out the teachers and the students, seems to me that it's ChatGPT doing all the "work". In some regard students and teachers have become involuntary, unpaid, beta testers or for ChatGPT.

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Opportunist on Monday March 11, @07:08PM (2 children)

        by Opportunist (5545) on Monday March 11, @07:08PM (#1348288)

        Hmm... if you cut out teachers and kids, all that remains is ChatGPT, with no humans required in the whole process.

        It's nice to see our schools finally get back to teaching closer to real life reality.

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by VLM on Tuesday March 12, @07:56PM (1 child)

          by VLM (445) on Tuesday March 12, @07:56PM (#1348447)

          all that remains is ChatGPT, with no humans required in the whole process

          This is Dead Internet Theory in a nutshell. Most of the internet is bots paid for by various corporations and governments trying to shill to ever fewer actual humans.

          I think "mass internet" will never go away as its too convenient to pay your electric bill, etc, but I think we're already at the point where social media and advertising as a business model already involves remarkably few humans. Certainly not the 100% human that was the rule in the early 2000s or late 1990s.

          Dead Internet will be the next dotcom-style collapse, when everyone realizes most of legacy social media is not human so why bother funding it?

          • (Score: 2) by Opportunist on Wednesday March 13, @01:29PM

            by Opportunist (5545) on Wednesday March 13, @01:29PM (#1348541)

            Bots are working for both sides now. And probably even sold by the same bot herders. Bots work as astroturfers, pretending to be real people telling you just how awesome products are, and they are employed by social media companies, pretending to be real people watching the ads that are being shown on those social media sites. Add some more bots employed by people who get free goodies out of "watching" ads like some bonus points in the "free" game they play and you realize that advertising is mostly done by bots and mostly consumed by bots.

            I think you're dead on here, the whole house of cards will come crashing down as soon as companies paying for these ads realize that the bots they use to peddle them are also the only ones really watching them.

      • (Score: 2) by Mykl on Monday March 11, @09:53PM

        by Mykl (1112) on Monday March 11, @09:53PM (#1348320)

        I, for one, look forward to welcoming our WALL-E overlords.

    • (Score: 5, Touché) by epitaxial on Monday March 11, @07:13PM (4 children)

      by epitaxial (3165) on Monday March 11, @07:13PM (#1348290)

      Almost as if teaching is a difficult career and they should be better compensated.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by darkfeline on Monday March 11, @07:36PM

        by darkfeline (1030) on Monday March 11, @07:36PM (#1348293) Homepage

        Teaching well is difficult, which is why most teachers do not meet the qualifications. High quality private schools pay a lot, but the teachers also work harder (and smarter; no point working harder if you don't produce results) and can be fired; "lay back and relax" tenure/union does not exist.

        Honestly, ChatGPT would probably do better or at least neutral compared to the average teacher.

        --
        Join the SDF Public Access UNIX System today!
      • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Monday March 11, @08:16PM

        by Freeman (732) on Monday March 11, @08:16PM (#1348301) Journal

        Very much this!

        --
        Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by anubi on Tuesday March 12, @02:11AM (1 child)

        by anubi (2828) on Tuesday March 12, @02:11AM (#1348350) Journal

        My brother taught science to Jr. High school students for years. For a long time, he considered himself successful if he could ignite a curiosity in his students to seek out how things work. It's how I was taught too.

        He was ordered to teach to standardized tests.

        The classroom became hell. For both him and his students. He knew the students would have been better off if he was just there for them. He was there to show them how stuff works. Demonstrated by fixing things. Sure, he would go onto the math of it a little...and discuss what "sciencey" words are used to describe our world.

        He would go out of his way to tailor his class to discuss things the kids brought up, even if out of sequence. A class question on dead car batteries would result in the students being shown generators, batteries, motors, use of measuring instruments. He was trying to prepare them for the real world they would encounter. Like why a bad connection at the battery would heat up, or the lights go dim on a car when starting it. He did not want Science to be boring.

        I thoroughly understood. I absolutely HATED English Literature in High School. I'd much rather fix a car. The English Teacher couldn't fix a car, so why is her taking it to a mechanic not considered cheating, but my seeking answers from others considered such?

        My brother quit teaching. He was not going to ruin a bunch of kids teaching them to hate science. If they ran PE that way, only the sports people would graduate, everyone else condemned to a life of filling out welfare forms.

        The "cancer" of craftsmanship seems to have ignited in the '70s and '80s as hordes of new graduates sporting "leadership" credentials entered the workforce, slowly but surely displacing the "manufacturing" raw engineering talent. Things became profit-centered on a quarterly timeframe. Lay off artisans. Hire more marketeers. Outsource. Arrange for others to do the work ( and acquire the experience of making the product ) on a Global scale. It's all in Cash Flow, Time to Market, and Cutting Corners.

        We used to make things for the world. Now we have become a parasite, just owning stuff and seeking rents. We seem to throw away everything our ancestors built, thinking the World owes us a comfortable lifestyle. I await our realization that it doesn't.

        I don't think people realize how important good teachers are. Just as we fail to realize how valuable any good craftsman is. We are so concerned with credentials. People who have finally found a good mechanic will know exactly what I am trying to say.

        --
        "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Reziac on Tuesday March 12, @03:14AM

          by Reziac (2489) on Tuesday March 12, @03:14AM (#1348361) Homepage

          I had wonderful teachers all through school. I only had one I remember as "bad" and in hindsight, he was probably just 1800s-style old-fashioned, with more of a deep passion for history than anyone can impart to 8th graders.

          But I was in school before all the nonsense of teaching to the test.

          If the test says you've learned something, but you patently do not know the subject, then the test is wrong.

          [Also, +1M Most Insightful Of The Day.]

          --
          And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
  • (Score: 5, Funny) by jelizondo on Monday March 11, @04:46PM (1 child)

    by jelizondo (653) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 11, @04:46PM (#1348264) Journal

    Given that the homework was done by ChatGPT, it will be graded A+

    :-)

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Tork on Monday March 11, @06:50PM

      by Tork (3914) Subscriber Badge on Monday March 11, @06:50PM (#1348285)
      Heh. Serious question- Do these various LLMs demonstrate repeatability? I mean if they're always learning then won't the quality of the grading vary just by the nature of the tech? Is 'deterministic' a better word for what I'm asking?
      --
      🏳️‍🌈 Proud Ally 🏳️‍🌈
  • (Score: 3, Funny) by SomeGuy on Monday March 11, @05:46PM (1 child)

    by SomeGuy (5632) on Monday March 11, @05:46PM (#1348273)

    So what do you tell your mother when you get a grade of "sediment" on your paper?

    At least we know there will be cake and grief counseling after the test.

    • (Score: 3, Touché) by Freeman on Tuesday March 12, @02:31PM

      by Freeman (732) on Tuesday March 12, @02:31PM (#1348411) Journal

      If gaming has taught us anything, "The cake is a lie."

      --
      Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Thexalon on Monday March 11, @06:10PM (16 children)

    by Thexalon (636) on Monday March 11, @06:10PM (#1348278)

    Not just this specific instance of it. Like, the whole concept of grading sucks. It's a poor attempt at applying an industrial model to an activity which is fundamentally not like factories in the slightest. There have been studies that strongly suggest that introducing grading is the fastest way to destroy a child's interest in learning things just for the sake of knowing those things.

    And no, I don't think standardized tests or IQ get to the crux of the problem either: It turns out that reducing human brains to an INT stat just doesn't capture how smart a kid is or what specifically they're capable of, but it does do an excellent job of capturing how much money and schooling the kid's parents have.

    --
    The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Mykl on Monday March 11, @10:04PM (4 children)

      by Mykl (1112) on Monday March 11, @10:04PM (#1348323)

      I don't think it's a universal truth that kids are discouraged from learning by being scored.

      Anectodally, one of my kids was content to drift along for the early years of his schooling, and would only learn what he had to in order to have enough marks to stay out of trouble with us. He discovered his passion for learning much later (mid-teens), but would not have been able to do so if we had just left him to his own devices. He is now an eager student who is highly engaged with his schooling.

      Also anecdotally, another of our kids has a friend whose parents see school as 'optional'. He is allowed to attend if he wants to, and basically chooses not to unless there is a special event or activity on that day. He is a lovely kid, but is functionally illiterate and obese (he is not encouraged to exercise or get outside when he stays at home). I am convinced that this kid would be in a much better position to succeed in later life it he had been pushed forward (grading etc) rather than just being allowed to learn at his own pace.

      I agree with you that there are lots of different ways in which people can be smart, but I disagree that we should do away with grading. How else can one determine whether they have properly learned a particular skill, and given feedback on how to improve?

      • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Tuesday March 12, @02:36AM (3 children)

        by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday March 12, @02:36AM (#1348354)

        It's not universal, but there are studies [wou.edu] out there suggesting that testing is a demotivator. What's certainly true is that testing means that the kid is learning whatever the test says is important, rather than what might actually be critical or exciting for that student.

        --
        The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
        • (Score: 2) by Mykl on Tuesday March 12, @02:55AM (1 child)

          by Mykl (1112) on Tuesday March 12, @02:55AM (#1348356)

          Let's say that we want to do away with testing as it de-motivates. How else do we determine whether a child has learned what they need to know? Any sort of exercise that checks that they have learned something is in effect a test.

          I don't think you are saying that we should abandon all checks to confirm that kids know what they need to know. But what is the alternative?

          Specific scenarios: Qualifying as an Engineer. Being a surf lifesaver. Obtaining a drivers license. Earning an academic scholarship to a prestigious school

          • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Tuesday March 12, @11:57AM

            by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday March 12, @11:57AM (#1348392)

            There was a time not that long ago when all of this stuff was extremely informal. As in, your teacher would evaluate your work as a whole and at some point tell you you were ready for the next class or next level of work. For university degrees, that would probably be a council of all the faculty in the subject you were studying who would decide to grant you a degree (or not). Letter grades and later numeric grading were experimented with in the 1800's and only became widely adopted in the early 1900's, and then as now the primary purpose was to figure out things like who got their tuition paid for and who had to chip in money that they might not have to get an education. So more-or-less coinciding with the Industrial Revolution, and more-or-less attempting to apply industrial factory thinking to the process of learning because standardization was considered the most important thing.

            Final exams were apparently an earlier phenomenon, and I don't think we should get away from, say, professional licensure exams that exist today. But I do think that learning is one of those areas where trying to reduce everything to conveniently spreadsheetable metrics is at best unhelpful and at worst counterproductive. The fact is that if you handed a good teacher a list of students in their class(es) and asked them to rank their understanding of the material from "grokked it" to "complete know-nothing", they all could do so without needing to look at test scores.

            --
            The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by anubi on Tuesday March 12, @02:57AM

          by anubi (2828) on Tuesday March 12, @02:57AM (#1348357) Journal

          The most destructive thing I have seen ranking/ grading people do is plant in them the idea that they are better than everyone else.

          Once they get that "superiority" meme planted in them, the "Stanford Prison Experiment" mentality comes into play, and the "teamwork" meme of the group rapidly disintegrates into a "dog-eat-dog" situation, everybody trying to compete to be the lead dog, everyone trying to delegate, no one's doing the work.

          I've seen this happen. I consider this relentless ranking one of the main tools used by management to absolutely ruin an organization.

          It turns the workplace back to grade-school where everyone hates the "teacher's pet".

          --
          "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by aafcac on Monday March 11, @10:20PM (9 children)

      by aafcac (17646) on Monday March 11, @10:20PM (#1348328)

      I've got a Masters in Education Studies and teaching is rather complicated. Testing and evaluation are particularly important as you tend to get what you test. If you've got a really well-designed testing program for a class, you'll get students that are encouraged to put effort into learning. If you have a poorly designed one, like any ML based one is likely to be, then you get a lot of issues.

      Testing and evaluation needs to be something that is thought about near the beginning of the class design. Realistically, you're better off farming out the content exposure and teaching to a 3rd party than the evaluation, there are any number of credible sources of information out there and if students are exposed to multiple ones they will likely get a good grounding in the topic. But, if the evaluation has flaws in terms of rewarding lower levels of learning, or allows for the system to be gamed, then that's what you'll get.

      I do think that ML can still be of value, however, it needs to be used appropriately. Having the ML spit out a grade is asking for trouble, but having the ML spit out an evaluation and having the student explain why the ML's opinion is valid, or not, and give some supporting reasons is a valuable exercise in nearly all classes.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Thexalon on Tuesday March 12, @03:17AM (8 children)

        by Thexalon (636) on Tuesday March 12, @03:17AM (#1348362)

        I've got a Masters in Education Studies and teaching is rather complicated.

        A bit about my background: One of my grandparents was an influential professor of education at Harvard, whose work on early childhood is still affecting how language is taught in the primary grades today (among their projects: Helping to develop what was then a new show for PBS combining entertaining puppets and educational content that you are probably familiar with). One of my parents taught high school for about half of their career.

        During my career, I've sometimes gone into tech education and worked with groups of kids learning the basics of programming.

        And at no point have any of them, nor any teacher I've ever chatted with, believed that testing provided any benefits at all to children. What I see as the main role of testing in our educational system today is helping the adults identify which kids we've decided it's OK to discriminate against. "You get A's, so you get to learn the skills that will get you towards university. You get C's, so we've decided there's no way you're going to be able to understand the stuff we're teaching our A students, so we're going to ship you off to a different building where you can learn to flip burgers." Oh, and by the way, it's nigh-impossible for the children of parents who went to university to end up in the burger-flipper track (their C's will lead to diagnosis with a learning disability that allows for accommodations that make things easier until they're getting A's again), and also fairly unlikely for the children of parents who were burger-flippers to end up on the university track.

        --
        The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
        • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Wednesday March 13, @01:21AM (2 children)

          by Reziac (2489) on Wednesday March 13, @01:21AM (#1348484) Homepage

          "What I see as the main role of testing in our educational system today is helping the adults identify which kids we've decided it's OK to discriminate against."

          This was very definitely not how my many wonderful teachers thought. Rather, that they needed to work harder on that student, at least if the student expressed even the vaguest interest in learning. Or determine if maybe the student needed an entirely different class.

          But I was in school before teaching to the test.

          --
          And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
          • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Wednesday March 13, @02:56AM (1 child)

            by Thexalon (636) on Wednesday March 13, @02:56AM (#1348498)

            It also matters quite a bit where you were in school. For example, my school system was a wide mix of backgrounds, and a lot of effort was put into tracking kids into the "right" spots. And I couldn't help but notice a strong correlation between mom & dad's money and how smart the kids allegedly were.

            I've seen very different dynamics in play in, say, wealthy suburbs of Boston, and one of the rougher schools in inner-city Cleveland.

            I had some truly wonderful teachers too. But they were working in a system that did not reward them for helping the worst students.

            --
            The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
            • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Wednesday March 13, @03:37AM

              by Reziac (2489) on Wednesday March 13, @03:37AM (#1348502) Homepage

              I went to school mostly in the Northern Wastes of Montana. We were very slow to get the rot, and quality teaching persisted well after the rot had hit more 'progressive' areas. (Whole Word Recognition hit Minnesota at least 15 years earlier.) Was still not seeing negatives here when I moved to SoCal in 1984... where it was immediately evident that schools were not all they could be; I was astonished by the vapid and emptyheaded kids. Now back in Northern Wastes... difference is again obvious.

              So, yeah, I'm sure it's variable everywhere.

              I'm glad to have had the educational experience I did.

              --
              And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by aafcac on Wednesday March 13, @12:35PM (4 children)

          by aafcac (17646) on Wednesday March 13, @12:35PM (#1348537)

          That just goes to show that in every field there are incompetents that don't know what they're talking about. Every model of learning that I've ever seen involves a point where there is evaluation, either internal or external. It's literally the difference between repeating the same stupid mistakes over and over versus improvement. It's also one of a short list of reasons that we have professional educators and schools dedicated to learning. Others being thoughtful selection of source material and the social learning that comes of spending time with other kids of a similar age. It's also been known for ages that you need to take a stab at the doing the thing before checking the answer. Without trying first, the proper neurons won't fire, and without verifying it afterwards you get random ML style learning that may or may not have any sort of meaning to it.

          The evaluation process addresses a massive issue with learning. Apart from relatively simple things where you can see whether or not it worked, people are terrible at self-evaluation. It's why basically everybody out there suffers from some combination of Dunning-Kruger or imposter syndrome. Knowing what precisely you know tends to require knowing more than you know in order to accurately evaluate it.

          The other bit about it, is that it's supposed to be one of the earliest considerations when teaching because if you're not integrating that at the beginning of the process. The testing and evaluation, when done right, is regular enough that students don't waste a lot of time guessing about why things aren't working. They can then focus on moving more in the direction of something that is known to work. If they aren't being given that, then there's absolutely not reason at all to be in school at all. If it's just being info dumped on and being given a random test so that they've been "tested" then there's no point in schooling at all.

          I'm curious precisely what those people think that learning is if it doesn't involve integrating testing and evaluation into the process so that students don't waste a bunch of time on things that are known not to work. OTOH, this sort of attitude does explain why I've wasted so much time over the years working with students that wouldn't have a problem if not for bad teaching. So much time undoing the damage before I even get to teaching anything new.

          • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Wednesday March 13, @02:20PM (1 child)

            by Reziac (2489) on Wednesday March 13, @02:20PM (#1348555) Homepage

            "It's also been known for ages that you need to take a stab at the doing the thing before checking the answer."

            Or why we learn more from our mistakes than from our successes?

            For some years I was the hardware bloke for a big user group. Got in a bunch of retired middle school PCs, still loaded with "educational" software. Being curious, I took a stab at it, and quickly realized the software did not teach the subject at all; rather, it taught how to get the software to spit up the desired response.

            --
            And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
            • (Score: 2) by aafcac on Wednesday March 13, @08:28PM

              by aafcac (17646) on Wednesday March 13, @08:28PM (#1348623)

              That's definitely related. There's simply a lot more things that can be learned from failure than success to begin with. There may only be one way of succeeding at a task, or there may be a few. Edison failed to invent a durable light bulb in hundreds of different ways before he found one way that worked. These days, there are a few other designs that were developed later on and now we've mostly abandoned it entirely for LEDs.

              As far as software goes, educational software is usually a hunk of garbage for anything other than rote memorization of things like math facts. I fondly remember games like Number Munchers, Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego and the Super Solver's series. They were relatively entertaining, but they were also fairly limited in terms of the content that the students would get out of it. It wouldn't take that long before it was just about the game and not about the learning. IMHO, the software is best for things where you need to encourage the students to practice repetitive skills a lot. I loved Mario Teaches Typing when I started to learn to type because it just made a bunch of sense. Learning to type is kind of tedious, and the game did a great job of scaffolding the process and making it engaging. By the end, you would be typing regular text rather than just hitting the right keys.

          • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Wednesday March 13, @04:45PM (1 child)

            by Thexalon (636) on Wednesday March 13, @04:45PM (#1348585)

            I'm not suggesting "no evaluation". I'm suggesting that grades aren't a good form of evaluation. Compare and contrast these two forms of evaluation:

            "Billy shows a strong ability for writing poetry including intuiting advanced rhythmic concepts and slant rhymes, and is comfortable with arithmetic, but struggles with more abstract math like algebra, and also has a hard time with rote learning such as knowing the location of countries and the names of their capital cities."
            This is information you would want if you were teaching Billy with the goal of Billy both being able to excel in some things and have a good-enough understanding of everything else to at least manage the challenges life puts in front of him. For example, a geography teacher with that information would be better off trying to teach Billy about Ethiopia by giving Billy some basic information about the country and asking him to write a short poem or stanza about it and its capital, rather than having him draw a map of East Africa. Also notice that this kind of approach suggests that Billy's geography exercises should probably be different than his classmate Jane who would learn this better via the map. Also also notice that if you give Billy and Jane different assignments, they're in a position to cooperate with each other, because both Billy's poem and Jane's map will help in understanding Ethiopia.

            "Billy has a GPA of 2.97, and a class rank of 254 of 759. His test score went from 456 to 537 over the last 3 months."
            The second evaluation is about something very different, namely how we should set up Billy's education to maximize the gain in test performance while minimizing the cost in time and effort spent on Billy to achieve that gain. And indeed, they might adjust to not focus on Billy at all, but instead on Billy's classroom as a whole, because the goal is to maximize the mean test performance, and maybe it's better to neglect Billy, because Jane can provide a much better test score increase at lower costs and thus make the teacher and school look better to the administration system. And of course it has ranked Billy and Jane to decide once and for all which of them has the superior brain and thus which should get the awards and rewards associated with that. This process, properly applied, will help in refining the assembly line to produce more qualified workers and students for the next level of education. You see what I mean about industrial thinking I hope.

            --
            The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
            • (Score: 2) by aafcac on Wednesday March 13, @08:18PM

              by aafcac (17646) on Wednesday March 13, @08:18PM (#1348622)

              What does this have to do with any of what I posted? At no point did I specify that there needed to be letter or number grades, nor did I say that people need to be ranked as part of the process.

              Testing and evaluation is a rather broad category that includes everything from one ranked test with a letter grade to informal measures of engagement like student eye contact and body language. Simply counting the number of times students offer to answer questions in class or ask questions would qualify as well.

              The specific type, frequency and weighting of the evaluation should depend a lot on the subject and the ultimate goals of the coursework.

    • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Tuesday March 12, @03:20AM

      by Reziac (2489) on Tuesday March 12, @03:20AM (#1348363) Homepage

      When I was in school (back before electricity) our test scores were often posted for everyone to see.

      One of our primary motivators was not being seen with a score below our known capacity.

      How is this different from any other sort of scoring?

      --
      And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
  • (Score: 5, Funny) by Opportunist on Monday March 11, @07:04PM (1 child)

    by Opportunist (5545) on Monday March 11, @07:04PM (#1348287)

    So kids are now using ChatGPT to write the papers, teachers are using ChatGPT to grade them. That should free up some time, maybe we can get back to teaching the kids now.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by SomeRandomGeek on Monday March 11, @07:25PM (8 children)

    by SomeRandomGeek (856) on Monday March 11, @07:25PM (#1348292)

    I have a child in elementary school, and one in high school. So, I have recent experience with looking at the feedback provided by teachers to student work. This seems like the perfect use case for LLMs to me. The student answers a question. Because they have not mastered the material, they make mistakes. Then, the teacher provides feedback on what the student has done wrong, and how they could do it better. Because the teacher is overworked, they don't have time to provide the best possible feedback they could provide. Sometimes the feedback is a red X, sometimes it is one word, like "capitalization" or "punctuation", and on rare occasions, it is a whole sentence. The feedback does not require creativity or originality. It requires patience and consistency. So, you get an LLM to provide the feedback, and the teacher just needs to check if the LLM is hallucinating. The student gets better feedback and the teacher's life gets slightly easier. Everybody wins.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Freeman on Monday March 11, @08:14PM (1 child)

      by Freeman (732) on Monday March 11, @08:14PM (#1348299) Journal

      You have a lot more faith in LLMs and basic human actions than I do.

      Here's a possible scenarios off the top of my head:
      #1 Everything works perfectly! More teachers are fired and fewer are hired. Teachers have the same overworked, underpaid status. Everything stays the same.
      #2 Everything goes horribly wrong! More teachers are fired, because bad teachers! Principals/Boards/Governing bodies take no personal responsibility. Many students are negatively affected by the outcomes.
      #3 More likely, things go off the rails. Teachers are blamed for using the tools they were given and are accused of not doing their job. Teachers get fired. Many students are negatively affected by the outcomes.
      #4 Most likely, things will be just enough wrong, but not enough wrong to warrant stopping the use of the tool. Teachers praise the new tool, but parents don't trust that the system is doing a good job. In all likelihood things aren't better and many students are negatively affected by the outcomes. Though, in this instance, perhaps less than in the other two negative outcomes.

      --
      Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by SomeRandomGeek on Monday March 11, @08:55PM

        by SomeRandomGeek (856) on Monday March 11, @08:55PM (#1348311)

        You have a lot more faith in LLMs and basic human actions than I do.

        You mistake me. I am deeply cynical and pessimistic. However, I lack your status quo bias. The standard for going ahead with proposed changes is not perfection. The standard for proposed changes is merely "The best option of those that are available right now." I am sufficiently disenchanted with the status quo that I think changes are worth trying when the cost of failure is merely some children getting a bad education and some tax payer money wasted. Basically, there is no downside because bad education and wasted taxes are what we have now.

    • (Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Monday March 11, @09:11PM (1 child)

      by tangomargarine (667) on Monday March 11, @09:11PM (#1348313)

      Depends on what exactly they mean by "grade papers"...my first thought was essays, which I would definitely not trust an AI to grade. For questions with known right and wrong answers though, sure.

      --
      "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
      • (Score: 2) by VLM on Tuesday March 12, @08:04PM

        by VLM (445) on Tuesday March 12, @08:04PM (#1348449)

        For questions with known right and wrong answers though, sure.

        We had "scantron" back in the late gen X era. Like optical punch cards, or very much like voting or standardized tests since 1985 or so.

        I would assume all kids use something like Grammarly or any other grammar / spelling checker so grading essays must be a lot more work in 2024, teachers can't pretend to grade merely by circling spelling mistakes.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Reziac on Tuesday March 12, @03:25AM (3 children)

      by Reziac (2489) on Tuesday March 12, @03:25AM (#1348365) Homepage

      Ya know, if there wasn't so much makework disguised as homework, maybe teachers would have more time for quality grading.

      Friend complained that his sixth grader was routinely sent home with SIX HOURS of homework. How is that anything but brain-numbing, for both teacher and child?

      When I was in school (and was manifestly better-educated than most today) we didn't get any sort of homework until high school, and then it was at worst a couple hours worth, and rarely that much. (In a school system that consistently made the top 1% in Iowa Basics.) That's already an 8 hour day. How much are kids supposed to work?? are they not aware that processing what's learned happens not during makework, but during downtime?

      --
      And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
      • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Tuesday March 12, @02:40PM (1 child)

        by Freeman (732) on Tuesday March 12, @02:40PM (#1348413) Journal

        China's got an issue with homework as well.

        China seeks to lift homework pressures on schoolchildren [bbc.com] - 20211023

        China has passed an education law aimed at reducing the pressures of excessive homework and intensive after-school tutoring, state media say.

        Parents are being asked to ensure their children have reasonable time for rest and exercise, and do not spend too much time online.

        In August China banned written exams for six and seven year olds.

        Officials warned at the time that students' physical and mental health was being harmed.
        [...]
        "I work 996 [from 9am to 9pm, six days a week], and when I come home at night I still need to carry out family education?" one user asked, quoted by the South China Morning Post newspaper.

        "You can't exploit the workers and still ask them to have children."

        In July, Beijing stripped online tutoring firms operating in the country of the ability to make a profit from teaching core subjects.

        Study shows Chinese students spend three hours on homework per day [chinadaily.com.cn] - 20151126

        Students in China's primary and secondary schools spend an average of three hours poring over homework assignments every day, twice the global average, according to a report by a Chinese online education institution.
        [...]
        The never-ending heaps of assignments also take a toll on parents. According to the report, more than 80 percent of parents said the homework makes them exhausted. About 45 percent of them admitted to asking their children to give up on their homework and 33 percent said they once talked to the teachers about this issue.

        --
        Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
        • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Tuesday March 12, @03:41PM

          by Reziac (2489) on Tuesday March 12, @03:41PM (#1348427) Homepage

          It's nuts. And what comes out isn't educated, it's just exhausted.

          --
          And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by aafcac on Wednesday March 13, @01:58PM

        by aafcac (17646) on Wednesday March 13, @01:58PM (#1348550)

        Teachers don't really want to assign homework. There was a period in the '90s when they thought that copying what they thought was going on in Asia was a good idea. Having lived and taught in China since, it's pretty clear that folks didn't understand the assignment as the Chinese educational system in particular is coping with the issue of too few teachers for the student population and too few university spots for those students. It leads to a situation where they need to weed a lot of students out for lack of abiilty to allow them to go to college and a lack of ability to have smaller classes in most cases. It was pretty common when I was there for there to be 60-80 students per class and for teachers to have so many students that even if they did nothing other than interact with students, they still wouldn't be able to give even 5 minutes to each student on a regular basis.

        Hence, other methods like ML get very attractive because time spent on grading and evaluation is time not being spent on developing a more inspiring curriculum and addressing the issues that are coming up in terms of what the students are actually doing.

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Gaaark on Monday March 11, @08:11PM (2 children)

    by Gaaark (41) on Monday March 11, @08:11PM (#1348298) Journal

    Teachers teaching AI to be teachers... good way to put yourself out of a job.

    --
    --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
    • (Score: 2) by Opportunist on Wednesday March 13, @01:34PM (1 child)

      by Opportunist (5545) on Wednesday March 13, @01:34PM (#1348542)

      I think the jobs should be safe. If the teachers we have right now are teaching AI how to be a teacher, I doubt that AI will be a good teacher.

      • (Score: 2) by aafcac on Wednesday March 13, @02:03PM

        by aafcac (17646) on Wednesday March 13, @02:03PM (#1348552)

        To be fair, a lot of that has to incompetent political appointees and elected officials. If teachers were allowed to do a bit more focusing on things that are working, the results would likely be a bit different.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by c0lo on Tuesday March 12, @01:28AM (5 children)

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday March 12, @01:28AM (#1348346) Journal

    Wait until enough AI generated content are fed back into AI training.
    Copy of a copy of a copy... of content not created by humans... what can go wrong?

    --
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
    • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Tuesday March 12, @02:43PM (3 children)

      by Freeman (732) on Tuesday March 12, @02:43PM (#1348415) Journal

      I have some light homework for you:
      Best Futuristic Dystopian City-Cyborg-Robot Movies [imdb.com]

      --
      Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
      • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Tuesday March 12, @03:43PM

        by Reziac (2489) on Tuesday March 12, @03:43PM (#1348428) Homepage

        And the granddaddy of them all...

        https://archive.org/details/colossus-the-forbin-project-1970 [archive.org]

        --
        And there is no Alkibiades to come back and save us from ourselves.
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by c0lo on Wednesday March 13, @03:18AM (1 child)

        by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 13, @03:18AM (#1348499) Journal

        The 7-fingers-or-more-memes [kym-cdn.com] Armageddon [kym-cdn.com] will happen far before that; will humanity survive it?

        I know, thinking reddit as "part of humanity" is sort'va hyperbola, but seriously [buzzfeednews.com] now.

        --
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0 https://soylentnews.org/~MichaelDavidCrawford
        • (Score: 2) by aafcac on Thursday March 14, @04:55PM

          by aafcac (17646) on Thursday March 14, @04:55PM (#1348766)

          The sad thing is that there's really no good reason for that to be a problem. It's just that they haven't bothered to make sure the AI is trained on how a human skeleton works. If they had that, then most of these issues wouldn't be happening. It's this whole business of just feeding random crap into a ML algorithm and hoping it eventually gets things right.

    • (Score: 2) by Opportunist on Wednesday March 13, @01:37PM

      by Opportunist (5545) on Wednesday March 13, @01:37PM (#1348543)

      Just wait 'til what an AI hallucinates together will be used as a source for peer reviewed papers.

      You'll be thrown out the class room for actually writing something factually correct because it conflicts with what the slew of AI papers dreamed up.

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