Talking Points: Should AI technology be used to assess student essays?

Talking Points: Should AI technology be used to assess student essays?

Hate it when you can’t talk back? Well, you can with Young Post. Have your say and share with students around Hong Kong

Abigael Thomas, 18, Sir Ellis Kadoorie Secondary School (West Kowloon)

No, definitely not. An essay is a short piece of writing that usually highlights a writer’s thoughts and feelings. Although artificial intelligence can be as skilful as humans, I don’t think it has any feelings. For example, a heartfelt paragraph in an essay can be ignored by AI technology if it is not the “perfect” answer.

Essays can be influenced by personal beliefs or feelings, so it will be wrong to use AI technology to assess students’ essays. This will without doubt reduce the teachers’ workload but that’s not a good reason to change the current marking system.

Carmen Leung, 17, TWGHs Lui Yun Choy Memorial College

I really like to see teachers marking exam papers by hand, although the use of AI technology can make their lives a little easier. I want to see what the teachers think about my work. One time, my teacher wrote down some words of encouragement on my badly written essay.

If AI technology is used to assess essays, the students would have no feedback on how to improve their writing. I feel confused. I know that some schools are testing such machines, but AI technology should not be used to judge all student essays.


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Saanchi Shah, 14, King George V School

Using AI technology to assess student essays is more efficient and will ease the burden on teachers. However, teachers going through essays and giving their feedback is much more beneficial to the students in the long term. Therefore, I think AI technology should not be used to mark essays.

Matthew Lin Kai-him, 17, Law Ting Pong Secondary School

In terms of practicality, I believe AI technology can only be used to assess answers for sections such as multiple-choice questions. Essays, on the other hand, allow students to express their views and feelings, so there are no absolutely correct or incorrect answers. In these instances, AI technology should not be used, with teachers assessing the writing.

What’s more, there may be bugs in the AI system. With more advanced technology in the future, the AI system might help. But, in the present situation, the idea of using it to mark students’ essays should not be encouraged.


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Dennis Chow, 13, Island School

No it is not a good idea, because some of the topics may be too hard for a computer program to understand. No matter how advanced AI is, an essay should always be marked by a teacher, because only humans can understand people’s thoughts.

Also, what if the system breaks down the night before the results have to be released? Teachers won’t be able to mark all the essays in one night! Then there would be a lot of problems.

Helen Liu,16, Fung Kai Liu Man Shek Tong Secondary School

I am against the idea. If a student, even an excellent one, has bad handwriting, then the AI tech might not read their work properly. If that’s the case, they might not get the grade they deserve.

Students would have to spend more time making sure their writing is legible by a machine, which they might not have to do right now. It would be a waste of time, which they could use to answer other questions. I don’t think AI technology should be used to mark a student’s essay at all.


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Judy Cheung, 15, Fung Kai Liu Man Shek Tong Secondary school

I think it’s a great idea! When students are doing their DSE exam, they might want to practise a lot and give their teachers more past papers to mark. They are doing this to see what sort of mark they might get in the real exam, or get advice, right? Well, teachers might not be able to do that, because they might not have enough time. If AI technology can be used, then students would be able to get marks for completing past papers, and teachers wouldn’t have a bigger workload. Simple!

Karen Ho Ka-man, 16, Fung Kai Liu Man Shek Tong Secondary School

No, I don’t think this is a good idea. Machines can’t predict every answer, and if a student writes an answer that might be right but isn’t recognisable by the machine, then they won’t get a good mark for it. That’s unfair to students who “think outside the box”. I realise of course that a machine can mark things quicker than a teacher, and it would free up more time for teachers, though. However, I think teachers can mark things with more accuracy. So, in summary, I think AI tech should not be used to assess essays.


In our next Talking Points, we’ll discuss:

Should there be a legal limit on how small a flat can be?

We are now accepting your answers for this topic. To take part, email your answer with your name, age, and school, along with a nice, clear selfie (make sure it’s not blurry), to yp@scmp.com by lunchtime on Monday. Don’t forget to include “Talking Points” in the subject line.

Edited by M. J. Premaratne

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