It looks like we can outsource anything. While college students might expect their work to be read by real professors (even if adjuncts or grad students) carefully scrutinizing their work, it turns out careful scrutiny is just getting too expensive.

And so, like so many credit card companies and telemarketers, colleges are sending student work to India. According to a piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education, University of Houston director of business law and ethics studies Lori Whisenant found that her professors just couldn’t keep up with the all the work required of her department’s nearly 1,000 students. Students needed “consistent, detailed feedback.” And so,

She outsourced assignment grading to a company whose employees are mostly in Asia.

The graders working for EduMetry, based in a Virginia suburb of Washington, are concentrated in India, Singapore, and Malaysia, along with some in the United States and elsewhere. They do their work online and communicate with professors via e-mail. The company advertises that its graders hold advanced degrees and can quickly turn around assignments with sophisticated commentary, because they are not juggling their own course work, too.


EduMetry says its services allow professors to “spend more time teaching and doing research.” And many colleges using the service say it does allow for more substantive feedback than real employees have the capacity to provide.

Several people interviewed in the article point out that the outsourced grading has improved course retention.

That’s a good thing, but what’s unclear is whether the feedback provided by India, Singapore, and Malaysia is really all that good. Are students learning just as well?

Furthermore, the assumption here seems to be that if a department can’t grade assignments from 1,000 students with its own staff, the best solution is to outsource the work. Perhaps, but has anyone considered the possibility that the department (“ethics studies” and all that) should consider assigning only material it has the capacity to process? [Image via]

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer