Dear Susan: That Frustrating Computerized Grader!
I’m feeling frustrated with the computerized grader. It seems like no matter how I answer a test question (using a hyphen or not, capitalizing or not, one word versus two words, etc.), I can’t win! Do I really not understand the material?
Soon to be a ‘Funny Farm’ Resident
Dear Soon to be a ‘Funny Farm’ Resident,
We know that sometimes the grader in the course drives you crazy! It recognizes a hyphen as correct in one place, but not in another; it allows a comma here, but not there; it likes a slash where you’ve put a dash; it leaves off a cap that you’ve put in–as well as many, many other discrepancies, most of which are pretty trivial. The orange and blue in the transcription text comparison also drives you crazy because of inconsistencies in style and usage.
The grader does not have a brain. It cannot exercise judgment. It is not capable of accepting several possible options. What it can do is simply compare your response with the response on a key. If there is a difference, it highlights the difference. If the difference is in the transcription key, it marks it with orange or blue. If it is on a test or exercise, it marks you wrong (even if it is just a stylistic difference).
One great advantage of the online test and exercise format is that you can go back and retake any test or exercise. If the grader marks you off because you put in a hyphen and it didn’t, go back and add the hyphen. Just make sure that the difference is NOT a significant one, and make sure that you understand WHY your answer was marked wrong. If you are sure that it was not, in fact, wrong, pat yourself on the back and move on. An important part of your training is to learn how to distinguish between issues that are significant and those that are not.
I hasten to emphasize, however, that your final exam will be reviewed by a human being who does have a brain and judgment. She will not mark anything off for issues that are simply stylistic.
CS Student Support