Automated Writing Aides: An Introduction and Critique

By Frank Hermann.

Published by Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This presentation offers an introduction to the subject of automated writing aides, known also as intelligent writing tutors. I begin by briefly outlining the history of these nascent technologies, from the development of Project Essay Grade in 1966 to the rise of more contemporary and robust programs such as The Intelligent Essay Assessor and Educational Testing Service’s Criterion.

Drawing on published research, as well as my own classroom experience with these technologies, I explore both the advantages and limitations of using automated writing aides to help students become better composers of academic prose.

I conclude that although the potential for misuse exists, automated writing aides offer a valid, reliable, and cost-effective method of delivering writing instruction to students of composition, regardless of grade level. I conclude, moreover, that whereas all design types are suitable for guidance in basic composition (where mastery of diction and syntax is often a high priority), programs that operate on the Latent Semantic Analysis algorithm are preferable for advanced writing assignments in which the articulation of content takes precedence over form and mechanical expression.

Keywords: Automated Writing Aides, Automated Essay Assessors, Intelligent Writing Tutors, Computer-Assisted Writing Instruction

Ubiquitous Learning: An International Journal, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp.77-84. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.287MB).

Dr. Frank Hermann

Assistant Professor of English, Department of English, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Steubenville, OH, USA

Frank W. Hermann, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of English and Director of the Writing Center at Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH. His interests include rhetoric, English linguistics, and the use of automated writing technologies in the composition classroom.