Automated Essay Scoring: A Literature Review

Ian Blood


In recent decades, large-scale English language proficiency testing and testing research
have seen an increased interest in constructed-response essay-writing items (Aschbacher, 1991;
Powers, Burstein, Chodorow, Fowles, & Kukich, 2001; Weigle, 2002). The TOEFL iBT, for
example, includes two constructed-response writing tasks, one of which is an integrative task
requiring the test-taker to write in response to information delivered both aurally and in written
form (Educational Testing Service, n.d.). Similarly, the IELTS academic test requires test-takers
to write in response to a question that relates to a chart or graph that the test-taker must read and
interpret (International English Language Testing System, n.d.). Theoretical justification for the
use of such integrative, constructed-response tasks (i.e., tasks which require the test-taker to
draw upon information received through several modalities in support of a communicative
function) date back to at least the early 1960’s. Carroll (1961, 1972) argued that tests which
measure linguistic knowledge alone fail to predict the knowledge and abilities that score users
are most likely to be interested in, i.e., prediction of actual use of language knowledge for
communicative purposes in specific contexts:

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