A practice-based evaluation of an on-line writing evaluation system: First-World technology in a Third-World teaching context
North West University - South Africa, University of South Africa
The core question interrogated by Spencer and Louw in this article is: 'What is the theoretical best practice in using computer-assisted language learning (CALL) for automated response to student writing, and how effectively can this be applied to the South African teaching context?' To answer this question, we discuss the advances represented by the Criterion(SM) Online Writing Evaluation system, a web-based service developed by ETS (Educational Testing Service) to evaluate student writing and provide feedback. Theory is juxtaposed with application. A practice-based evaluation of the implementation of this programme at the Potchefstroom Campus of the North-West University was conducted in which the Criterion service was used by approximately 1 000 students per year, in 2005 and 2006. The students were enrolled in English /, Academic Literacy, English for Law Students and English for the Professions. One of the authors, Henk Louw, acted as administrator for this project. This article explores the advantages and challenges of implementing this American technology in a South African teaching context.