In the course of this article, researchers were describing a new tool called „the point of origin“. Problem that researchers struggled with was a large capacity of so called „gateway courses“, which are intended to be an introduction to specific area of study. Students are supposed to learn key concepts and thoughts there. Gateway courses are relatively good in transfering blocks of information, but not so good in developing understanding of concepts and developement of higher ordet thinking. Teachers in these courses cannot individually help each student, so the best strategy is to identify students with weak understanding. Researchers developing „Point of originality“ tool set out to build a system which would record students blogposts that they had to write during the course. Agorythm then evaluated the level of originality of thought behind the blogpost by applying thesaurus of closely linked terms and measuring the expansiveness of sentences. Crucial information was the level of recasting, which means an ability of student to put concepts into his or hers own words. Point of origin also has a web interface in which all the results are visualized for teacher.
Results of two studies that were done for testing Point of Originality were surprisingly high. Students with the highest level of recasting were most likely to obtain good grades in final exams.
In my oppinion, Point of originality is a tool with a great potential for use in massive courses in which instructor is not able to track all of his/hers students all the time. The idea of using algorythm to judge the level of understanding seemed rather fishy to me in the beginning. The analytical part of a tool uses some sort of „synot trees“ that create structure of similar/closely linked terms and then analyzes how student uses them troughout the text. I cannot say that I fully understand these methods, but if measurments in studies prove the corectness of it, I cant disagree. My main concern remains in fact, that not all students might be similarly gifted when it comes to language faculties and an lagorythm might misinterpret this as a lack of understanding rather than lack of expression