How to Reduce Racial Bias in Grading (Use Objective Rubrics)

To gauge the potential impact of a standardized rubric on grading bias, I conducted an experiment comparing how teachers graded two identical second-grade writing samples: one presented as the work of a Black student, and one as the work of a white student.

My experiment found that teachers gave the white student better marks across the board—with one exception. When teachers used a grading rubric with specific criteria, racial bias all but disappeared. When teachers evaluated student writing using a general grade-level scale, they were 4.7 percentage points more likely to consider the white child’s writing at or above grade level compared to the identical writing from a Black child. However, when teachers used a grading rubric with specific criteria, the grades were essentially the same.

Bottled Authors: the predigital dream of the audiobook

There was no way to preserve sounds before the nineteenth century. Speeches, songs, and soliloquies all vanished moments after leaving the lips. That situation changed in 1877, when Thomas Edison began working on a machine that could mechanically reproduce the human voice. Edison’s team successfully assembled a device on which Edison recorded “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” a nursery rhyme that would become the first words ever spoken by the phonograph.2 Depending on how you define the term, Edison’s inaugural recording of verse might be considered the world’s first audiobook.. –Matthew Rubery, Cabinet Magazine

A computer scientist urges more support for the humanities (opinion)

“Lior Shamir, a computer scientist who’s actively participated in efforts to increase participation in STEM fields, now wonders if she’s been on the wrong side.” The theme of those academic meetings has been rather consistent: we must reach out to those lost souls who chose to study the humanities or social sciences and show them the light of STEM. But as time has passed, and the deeper and more sophisticated…

Infrared photo confirms Munch wrote “madman” inscription first noticed in 1904

“Kan kun være malet af en gal Mand!” (“Can only have been painted by a madman!”) appears on Norwegian artist Edvard Munch’s most famous painting The Scream. Infrared images at Norway’s National Museum in Oslo recently confirmed that Munch himself wrote this note. The inscription has always been visible to the naked eye, but the infrared images helped to more clearly distinguish the writing from its background. Comparing it with the artist’s handwriting…

Behold this stack of August Wilson library books

Yay, libraries. I’m delighted that my college library has a full set of August Wilson’s plays. I’ve had them all checked out for a couple months, but I’m finished with them for now. During the Christmas break I taught a special topics course on Wilson’s Century Cycle. I thought it was too much to expect students to read all 10 plays during an intensive course that lasts for just 3…

Gender and Language — Revisiting Advice I Posted in 1998

When I was in college and active in a Catholic student group, I remember noticing that a second edition of the hymnal Glory and Praise rewrote lyrics, replaced many generic references to “men” or “brothers” with synonyms like “all” or “fam’ly” (elided to two syllabus).  Sometimes this meant rewriting the rhymes, or occasionally leaving a line that referred to “brothers” and “sons” and adding a parallel verse that addressed “sisters”…