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Published: 2021-12-15

Can and should AI systems set student grades?

NEWS Umeå University constantly strives to develop interdisciplinary research and education. In this direction, the hackathon “AutogrAIde” will be organised on Wednesday 19 January. It is an interdisciplinary event where students, teachers and the public are invited to discuss whether and how AI can be used to automate part of grading and assessment activities.

Text: Petra Wester

Today, many automated tools are already being used to help teachers organizing the learning environment and the question is: is there acceptable uses for AI technologies to support grading and assessing students, and how can we do it? What are the benefits and what are the difficulties? The Hackathon, led by Loïs Vanhée, Associate Professor at the Department of Computing Science, setting a university-wide collaboration across six departments; Computing Science, Design, Informatics, Philosophy, Law, and Pedagogy.

Interesting possibilities

“AI systems offer interesting possibilities, but we have to be very careful when it comes to discussing AI for supporting grading. It’s a sensitive topic connected to legal, ethical, pedagogic, and social issues,” says Loïs Vanhée. 

This Hackathon is dedicated to developing students’ awareness, critical thinking and empowerment. The event will focus on looking at the landscape of possibilities and critically argue for its viability (or not!) along with integrated interdisciplinary perspectives.
“Technology concerns are merely one facet of AutogrAIde. We hope to learn from all participants’ viewpoints: if grading is to change, all voices should be heard” says Loïs Vanhée.

More than programming

Usually, hackathons are events where experts get together in collaborative teams and work intensively to try to solve a concrete (programming) problem. Loïs Vanhée clarifies: “Hackathons are now more than programming events. In our case, we want student experts from multiple disciplines and backgrounds to collaborate together. Inclusive diversity is the key concept here.”
The hackathon should not just be for discussing, but also for the participants to work towards a goal and returning home with a feeling of accomplishment and participation. “I wish all the participants to return home and say ‘we found a possible use of AI for grading, we studied carefully and my viewpoint brought something significant to the discussion’. Everyone has something interesting to say, not only computing scientists’," says Loïs Vanhée.


As AI is becoming a major social factor, discussions about AI need to be illuminated from multiple viewpoints. The Council for Artificial Intelligence, RAI, works to strengthen and develop interdisciplinary research and education in AI at Umeå University and has funded the project.
“We encourage collaboration across disciplines when it comes to AI. It is important that applied issues and challenges are highlighted by several different fields” says Katrine Riklund, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Chair of RAI at Umeå University.

Engaging event 

This hackathon will be an engaging, interdisciplinary and exciting collaboration where participants will have the opportunity to discuss and develop different solutions. By creating more interdisciplinary events, heterogeneous groups can meet and discuss important issues that benefit research and policy-making.
“Our hope is that this event is a first step in building sustainable interdisciplinary bridges across the university to create better collaboration in the future, we strive to make of this hackathon a well-flagged interdisciplinary pathway that everyone at the university can use for innovative education, research, and creation of value for society," says Loïs Vanhée.   

Register to the Hackathon!

Do you think we should use AI for grading? Are you against it? This Hackathon is open for all, no matter what you are interested in. If you are interested in participating in the activity or reaching the network, Register to AutogrAIde Hackathon here.