Ongoing, immediate feedback

Real-world application

Writing software that analyzes and scores essays instantly can reconcile this need for immediate feedback with the reality of busy teachers’ schedules. Systems have been developed that are as accurate as human scoring and are widely accepted.

Studies have found scoring software to be useful for monitoring multiple writing traits and providing feedback on the content of essays, as well.

Online writing software

So what does immediate feedback look like when it’s delivered by software instead of a teacher? Look at this sample of training on sentence constructions. The student receives a detailed response that addresses both the strengths and weaknesses of his essay.

Improved learning outcomes

Our researchers studied a set of more than one million essays to see how students use an online writing system and how that actually helps students improve their writing.

Because students wrote them using Pearson’s WritetoLearn™ software, we could look at how much essays changed from draft to draft and what kinds of system features students used throughout the learning process.

The overall results are not surprising: the quality of the writing improved with revisions and feedback. We discovered that essays revised too quickly after receiving feedback did not get much better, also not surprising.

Essays improved the most when between 20 and 40 minutes elapsed between submissions, presumably because students spent that time writing and, therefore, learning.

Implications for online writing assessment

We can do much more analysis in the future. But right now we can look at how students are progressing using automated writing assessments, which can help districts and states track the effects of policy and instructional changes.

Explore the research

Learn more about automated scoring.