“Students benefit from having to understand and apply concepts instead of just hearing about them in lecture,” he said. “I believe students are more motivated to grasp concepts and theories because instead of just being passive consumers of knowledge, they know that … they have to engage these concepts as producers of knowledge.”

Edward Brent, a professor at the University of Missouri and president of Idea Works, which distributes the product, created SAGrader in 2006 to help his students learn more by giving them quick, high-quality feedback on their writing assignments.

Pam Thomas, a biology instructor at the University of Central Florida (UCF), first used the program in fall 2009, when she taught classes of more than 100 students. She said SAGrader was 98 percent accurate in the way it assessed student assignments.

Thomas inserted tidbits of feedback into her students’ SAGrader assignments, a luxury she never considered before using the program, when she and her teaching assistants graded more than 1,200 papers by hand.

Chia said the system is popular among students who stay ahead of class assignments and coming essays.

“It motivates students because they know their grade is essentially in their hands,” he said. “They can work on assignments as early as they’d like so that they have time to resubmit and improve their grades.”


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