Ed Brent, professor of sociology at the Columbia, Mo., university, spent six years developing the program, which is called Qualrus, and has been testing it on his pupils for the past two. It works by scanning text for keywords, phrases and language patterns. Students load papers directly into the system via the Web and get nearly instant feedback.
The computer-generated scores count for about a third to a quarter of students' final grade for Brent's class. Students have challenged the scores, but if they don't use the right lingo in their papers, they're out of luck. "In sociology, we want them to learn the terms," Brent said.
thinking outside the box: no credit.
thinking inside the box: full credit.