Lori Whisenant knows that one way to improve the writing skills of undergraduates is to make them write more. But as each student in her course in business law and ethics at the University of Houston began to crank out—often awkwardly—nearly 5,000 words a semester, it became clear to her that what would really help them was consistent, detailed feedback.As we can see, this insane practice is justified by the claim that it's impossible for the professor to read and grade 500 papers each semester. In the discussion that follows, pros and cons of this kind of outsourcing are discussed at length. What is shocking, though, is that nobody stops to consider how it is even possible that such idiotic measures would be taken instead of simply opening more tenure-track positions. What our higher education needs is not people from other countries grading papers of students they have never met in the course they know nothing about. Rather, we need to stop cramming hundreds of students into the same classroom. We need to stop cutting down on tenure-track positions and stop saving money in these ridiculous ways.
Her seven teaching assistants, some of whom did not have much experience, couldn't deliver. Their workload was staggering: About 1,000 juniors and seniors enroll in the course each year. "Our graders were great," she says, "but they were not experts in providing feedback."
That shortcoming led Ms. Whisenant, director of business law and ethics studies at Houston, to a novel solution last fall. She outsourced assignment grading to a company whose employees are mostly in Asia.
All of this stupidity with on-line teaching, insanely huge classrooms, and now grade outsourcing is destroying our higher education system. This is wrong, people, and it needs to stop.