This is to let you all know about a utility for grading essays online that I will be distributing this fall. The Essay Assistant will work within Microsoft Word and consists of a dialog box housing dozens of pre-written "Standard Answers" that can be pasted as feedback into determined spots in a student essay. Each entry in this library of "frequently made comments" will provide substantial explanation, examples, and suggestions for further reading. The teacher/user simply chooses a category of responses (grammar, logic, citations), browses a list of comments, modified the chosen comment if necessary, and hits a paste button. Users can alter and add to the library and its categories.
I am now in the process of inviting people to participate in writing the entries that will "ship" with this product, so that the end result will be not only a piece of software, but a great collection of well developed standard comments as well. If you would like to contribute an entry, I will be glad to make sure you receive a free copy of the complete finished product.
To facilitate the collection of entries, I've created a website: Essay Comments Database
By going to the above site, you can browse a list of topics that I need entries for. You can click on any topic to see if there are any submissions already made, but whether there are or not, you can then write and submit your own entry. If you want to write on a topic you don't see there, you can add topics to the database as well.
Please visit the site and make a contribution, being sure to leave your email address so I can send you the completed product. Again, this is a free, collaborative effort for the improvement of instruction in English composition.
Jeff Jung, Ph.D.
El Camino College
Jeff, and all,
Please see what I think, with all due respect, may be a better tool, called T.A. Toolbar at Grading Essays is Better than Ever. I like it because it's smaller, customizable (thus no need for a database), has a holistic grader mechanism, and a quick plagiary detection system, among other features. Most of the comments that it inserts into a piece of student writing bear hyperlinks to web pages that provide students with more information about the given error. A new version (not yet available) will work with MS Word 2007.