American academics outsource grading to Bangalore

October 22, 2010

In an age when American students outsource the writing of their term papers and homework to third parties, it should come as no surprise when some American professors have decided to outsource the grading of their students’ work. That is exactly what the Chronicle of Higher Education noted back in April when it mentioned Lori Whisenant, the director of business law and ethics studies at the University of Houston, who decided to outsource assignment grading to a company whose employees were mostly in Asia and India in particular. Apparently, her seven teaching assistants could not keep up with grading the papers from and providing appropriate feedback to the 1,000 juniors and seniors enrolled in her course each year.

So she outsourced grading to Virtual-TA, a service of EduMetry Inc.. The company is based in a Virginia suburb of Washington DC while their employees work from India, Singapore, Malaysia as well as the USA and elsewhere. The work that they do is online and they communicate with professors via email – quickly turning around graded assignments complete with “sophisticated commentary.”

American academics outsource grading to Bangalore
The company’s founder, Dr. Chandru Rajam, a professor at George Washington University, also discussed his company in an article for the Toronto Star where he noted that he has assembled a team of adjunct professors, retired teachers and even “homemakers with masters’ degrees” to grade 2,000 student assignments a week. He pointed out that the intent of his company is not to degrade or cheapen the teaching-learning equation but to come up with a better model plus he jokingly noted that if a mother can outsource childcare to a daycare center, any type of outsourcing is now fair game.

Picking up on the story, Jacques Steinberg of the New York Time’s The Choice education blog asked his readers what they thought of this idea and he received well over one hundred comments. The comments ranged from the suggestion to outsource the professors and TAs themselves in order to reduce the cost of an American university education to outright criticism of professors and universities to support of the idea since the outsourcing of grading can provide quick and constructive feedback about the work of students.

Meanwhile, blogger Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet expressed criticism of the idea when she asked on her blog how teachers are supposed to properly evaluate the work of their students when they are not spending their time reading or grading their work. She then asked her readers to tell her what she is missing.

Hence, we want to ask you our readers what you think of American professors outsourcing the grading of the work of their students: Does is “cheapen” an already expensive American university degree? Or can it improve the American education system – perhaps by making it both more affordable and give students more value for their money? Tell us what you think.


Comments

2 Responses to “American academics outsource grading to Bangalore”

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  2. Rosa on December 28th, 2010 7:44 am

    Interesting info, not sure what that cannot be outsourced?

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