outsourcing grading

The New York Times links to a story from the Chronicle of Higher Ed about a professor of business law and ethics at the University of Houston who felt that her TAs were overburdened with essays to grade, and therefore decided to outsource grading to a firm called EduMetry.

EduMetry assessors in India, Singapore, Malaysia, and other countries grade and give feedback on exams and including writing assignments.  According to the Chronicle article, “The company argues that professors freed from grading papers can spend more time teaching and doing research.”

Who can argue with more time for doing research … but isn’t grading integral to figuring out what students need in planning lectures and seminars?   I wonder if the undergraduates feel they’re getting value for their tuition with outsourced grading?  I can’t help but envision a slippery slope … outsourced faculty?

If anyone works or teaches at a school that outsources grades, I’m curious about the administrative process for approving outsourcing.  Was there a debate and what was it like?

3 thoughts on “outsourcing grading”

  1. I haven’t been in such a situation, but one advantage is that assessment isn’t biased by the student’s relationship with the professor – a likely culprit in grade inflation. I rather liked Swarthmore’s honors system, hardly “outsourced,” but in which they bring in scholars from other institutions to examine students based on the syllabi from which they were taught.

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  2. “isn’t grading integral to figuring out what students need in planning lectures and seminars?”

    This applies to ALL graders, including TAs and grad students who are paid hourly to grade exams. There’s nothing that helps to close the loop on how well you are teaching something so much as seeing the kinds of mistakes students make. And the nuances or special emphases you are trying to get across in lectures won’t get executed in grading by others. I find it much easier to delegate the grading of relatively-disconnected research papers than the grading of exams or exercises directly testing the mastery of material I’ve been trying to teach.

    Frankly, I don’t see much difference in the undergraduate’s experience from outsourcing to India versus outsourcing to graduate student graders who don’t attend the lectures — very common at large universities. I DO however, see a big difference in terms of whether the money is staying within the institution to support its students, or going elsewhere.

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  3. What about the process of external examiners that consists in having someone from another university grade the work of your own students? It’s commonly used for dissertations. Why not undergraduate essays?

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