FARMINGTON — Maja Wilson, University of Maine at Farmington assistant professor of secondary education, will present “What Can Robo-Graders Teach Us About Being Human?” at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27, in the performance space at the Emery Community Arts Center.

The presentation is part of UMF’s Public Classroom series. It’s free and open to the public.

There will be a gathering with refreshments at 6 p.m.

Robo-graders have infiltrated writing classrooms and testing companies at every level, spitting out scores and “feedback” seconds after students’ essays are submitted. These computer-generated scores often lead to important decisions, from school funding and merit pay for educators to college admissions and course placement for students.

For most writing assessment experts, there is no question: the use of computer essay-scoring technology in high-stakes testing is invalid and unethical. As a teacher of writing and a writing assessment scholar, Wilson joins her colleagues in resisting this convenient but faulty form of assessment. But what can robo-graders teach people about being human? As it turns out, quite a lot.

Wilson currently teaches history and philosophy of education, foundations of education, and honors courses at UMF. Before joining the faculty, she taught for 10 years in Michigan’s public schools and was a lecturer in the Literacy Program at the University of Maine. Her scholarly interests include writing assessment, automated essay scoring, teacher agency, the accountability movement and the history and consequences of behaviorism in American education.

Wilson is the author of “Rethinking Rubrics in Writing Assessment,” which won the Conference on English Education’s James Britton Award in 2007. In addition, her work has been published in several edited collections and in Educational Leadership, Rethinking Schools, English Journal, Kappan, Education Week, Journal of Teaching Writing and the Washington Post Answer Sheet. She is currently working on a second book about writing assessment.

The Public Classroom series is sponsored by the UMF Office of the President.


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