story by Claire Miller
Three Georgia State University faculty members have received $1 million grants from two philanthropic foundations to better collect and disseminate educational assessment data.
Most assessment datasets can be difficult for researchers to acquire, according to Scott Crossley, a professor with joint appointments in the Departments of Applied Linguistics and Learning Sciences.
“Despite the power of open datasets, very few have been released,” he said. “This is primarily because almost all large educational assessment datasets are held by large testing companies for competitive advantage. Federal funding focuses more on education interventions and research than the development of open datasets, and few researchers create them given the considerable logistical hurdles.”
To address these issues, Crossley and Learning Sciences Assistant Professors Kathryn McCarthy and Ben Shapiro will use their new funding to establish the Open Data for Assessment Fund, a new initiative that will create and share open assessment datasets.
The research team will review, format and release several datasets and will encourage researchers to use them in creative ways.
“To show the value of the open datasets created through this grant, Georgia State will run six competitions for innovators to create new technological innovations for assessment utilizing the datasets,” Crossley said. “These innovations will take the form of computational algorithms that can be plugged into assessment tools to help learners develop educational skills and strategies.”
Crossley, McCarthy and Shapiro hope the Open Data for Assessment Fund will help researchers better understand current educational data and discuss new ways to assess students.
“Much of educational research suffers from a lack of large, open datasets that can support diverse and deep perspectives on student learning,” the researchers wrote. “By curating and releasing open datasets to the educational research community, we hope to spur innovation in educational practices and assessments, as well as conversations about the ethical use of data that serve a larger community of learners.”