3.154 checkers, cont. (38)

Wed, 21 Jun 89 18:23:50 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 154. Wednesday, 21 Jun 1989.

Date: Tue, 20 Jun 89 20:38 EDT
From: John McDaid <MCDAID@NYUACF>
Subject: checkers

Re: request for info on spelling and grammar checkers

While the advances in AI routines for these packages are quite substantial
over their crude ancestors, it should still be an open question -- especially
in writing classes -- if we want to submit developing writers to such
frankly rule-oriented review.
It is not so much *that* there are errors in a student text as the *logic*
of these errors, and while this is old news, it is something that no
AI routine is yet capable of penetrating.
For this reason, I recommend programs like PROSE, rather than any spelling
or grammar "checker." PROSE (available in both Macintosh and IBM versions
from McGraw-Hill) allows readers to embed comments and flag "errors" in
a text
PROSE (which stands for Prompted Revision Of Student Essays) was developed
at the Cornell writing program. It allows either the instructor or other
students to focus on meaning problems (which can arise from grammatical or
conceptual bases) rather than on surface features. Reviewers embed markers
in the text which open into hypertext-like "windows" in which they can
pose questions or insert commentary. PROSE does have a selection of standard
"grammatical" markers which come with pre-written descriptions of the error.
I feel that focussing on errors in this way, with understanding being the
determinant rather than algorithm, is ultimately more respectful of the
complexity of a student's (or anyone's, for that matter) text.
-John McDaid
New York University