A Study on the Effectiveness of Automated Essay Marking in the Context of a Blended Learning Course Design

Wenhua Yu, Trevor Barker


This paper reports on a study undertaken in a Chinese university in order to investigate the effectiveness of an online automated essay marking system in the context of a Blended Learning course design. Two groups of undergraduate learners studying English were required to write essays as part of their normal course. One group had their essays marked by an online automated essay marking and feedback system, the second, control group were marked by a tutor who provided feedback in the normal way. Their essay scores and attitudes to the essay writing tasks were compared. It was found that learners were not disadvantaged by the automated essay marking system. Their mean performance was better (p<0.01) than the tutor marked control for seven of the essays and showed no difference for three essays. In no case did the tutor marked essay group score higher than the automated system. Correlations were performed that indicated that for both groups there was a significant improvement in performance (p<0.05) over the duration of the course and that there was a significant relationship between essay scores for the groups (p<0.01). An investigation of attitude to the automated system as compared to the tutor marked system was more complex. It was found that there was a significant difference in the attitudes of those classified as low and high performers (p<0.05). In the discussion these findings are placed in a Blended Learning context.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22158/elsr.v1n1p20


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