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Outsourced Grading of Student Papers?

Posted by on Thursday, April 8, 2010 in News.

A recent Chronicle of Higher Education article reports on the emerging practice of outsourcing the grading of student papers to third-party companies.  For example, University of Houston professor Lori Whisenant has outsourced some of the work her TAs used to do to a company called EduMetry:

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.

Proponents of this practice assert that this service, Virtual-TA, is cheaper than hiring local graduate students as TAs and provides more and better feedback to students on their work.  Others argue that TAs who are only “virtual,” who don’t participate in other aspects of the course, can’t provide as meaningful feedback as on-site TAs.  There’s also the issue of lost opportunities for graduate students to gain teaching experience.

What are your thoughts on outsourcing paper grading?

Image: “Making the Grade” by Flickr user jakevol2 / Creative Commons licensed

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