Case Study: Andrew Johnson at Park University
Few instructors have done as much to shape SAGrader as Andrew Johnson at Park University. Andrew has been at Park for almost 16 years where he served as Chair of the Psychology Department for seven years.
He also served in other leadership positions including Chair of the Division of Social and Administrative Sciences, Co-chair of the Higher Learning Commission re-accreditation self-study committee, Faculty Senate President, and Freshmen Coordinator.
Andrew has been working with us since 2009 to develop a robust set of introductory psychology writing assignments based on the immensely popular David G. Myers Psychology textbook.
Andrew recently told us about his experience using SAGrader in this informal Q&A:
Why did you decide to use SAGrader in your class?
I have consistently been interested in both writing across the curriculum and the automation of pedagogical processes. I have also been involved in rubric creation, implementation, and training largely through my participation in the Educational Testing Services’ Advanced Placement Psychology Examination scoring. These experiences sensitized me to the topics of developing and applying systems to scoring open-response questions.
A colleague in the department shared the potential of SAGrader with me and I was excited to bring in technology to automate scoring of student responses.
How has your class improved since you started using SAGrader?
I use SAGrader not only to reinforce and improve student writing, but also to help a segment of students who are challenging to reach — the underprepared students. Writing skills only improve with writing practice and formative feedback.
Using SAGrader allows the skilled student to quickly address the questions while providing the important formative feedback and opportunities to resubmit for the student with developing expressive skills. My skilled students have reported that they like the immediate feedback with the opportunity to resubmit. SAGrader has given them more control over their scores and they like that.
My students have also admitted that answering the questions have forced them to open their textbooks and to read the material. My less skill–developed students have reported frustration at the onset of using SAGrader, and have reported that the writing gets easier and they have to submit fewer times across the semester.
I’ve also observed that their responses over the semester are becoming more concise yet more dense/meaningful. Students have also reported that their writing in other classes has improved and knowledge/skill transference is important in education.
What are your favorite features or benefits of the program?
The biggest benefit of using SAGrader rests with improving student writing and thinking. Writing for a computer requires a skill set to not only express key concepts in a direct and specific manner, but also to take another perspective and write to it. The SAGrader system adapts to the student and gives the less prepared student more learning opportunities without taxing the instructor.
I like the automated scoring and immediate feedback adapted to the students’ schedule.