Using Grammarly to Improve Student Writing*

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Steven Cain, scain@unl.edu, is an instructional designer in the College of Business Administration and has recently been part of a large-enrollment course design project focused on business writing. 

This fall, the College of Business Administration is running its first semester of a new writing course. A predominant focus of the course is enhancing the organization and presentation of ideas in student writing. The inherent challenge that came along with this course was how to help students ensure their first drafts were free of grammatical errors and ready for instructor review. Enter Grammarly, the super-powered grammar-checking software.

The free version of the software will check for 150 common grammar and spelling errors. The software functions in its online interface, or through web browser plug-ins (Chrome, Firefox, and Safari are supported), or add-ons to Microsoft Office. On top of this, the premium version of the software includes checks for an additional 100 grammatical errors, suggestions to enhance vocabulary, and the ability to make style suggestions based on the type of document.

Along with making suggestions for errors, Grammarly provides users with a card of information telling them more about the error. This means that, ideally, students are taking time to process the errors from Grammarly and learning from those errors to improve their future writing. So there you have it, we don’t need composition classes anymore, right? Definitely not!

Grammarly can help get past many surface level challenges, but if students don’t understand that it is a fallible tool they could end up struggling. To pull an example from this very sentence, Grammarly tried to correct my misspelling of ‘fallable’ to ‘valuable’ instead of ‘fallible,’ completely changing the intended thought. Although it has its issues, Grammarly does help to elevate student writing beyond the basic errors of its/it’s and there/their/they’re.

To see how Grammarly works in different contexts, watch the short video below.

Technology: 
Writing applications