Writing assessment, disease mobility tracking focus of Dec. 3 Data Science talks

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Three researchers from two Penn State campuses will give brief talks about their work at the next Penn State Data Science Community meeting scheduled at 11 a.m. Thursday Dec. 3. The virtual event is open to members of the Penn State community and advance registration is required.

Rebecca Passonneau, professor of computer science and engineering, will present a talk titled “Pitting Machines against Humans for Assessments of Student Writing? Not Really.” The talk will touch on research to address deficiencies in writing skills that have been identified in secondary school students in the U.S. According to the  National Assessment of Educational Progress, only 27% of students in grade eight and 12 are “proficient” in writing skills. Passonneau will discuss work being conducted in her Natural Language Processing Lab to better equip educators with tools for improved writing assessment. Researchers in the lab are investigating writing rubrics across content areas, their reliability within and outside the context of actual classroom use, and the potential for human-machine collaboration to lead to more timely and consistent feedback on student writing.

Two Penn State Great Valley researchers — Ashkan Negahban, assistant professor of engineering management, and Mohamad Darayi, assistant professor of systems engineering — will present on their work related to how movement and interaction of public transportation users can play an important role in spreading an infectious disease. By integrating mobility network data with regional demographics and health data, the researchers are developing network-based vulnerability indices that can help prioritize resource allocation across communities and the underlying transportation network during an epidemic or pandemic. This information can help improve decision making on where resources such as testing sites could be of greatest benefit. The researchers noted that they were seeking future collaborators with expertise in disaster science and community resilience.

The Data Science Community is a grassroots initiative supported by Penn State's Teaching and Learning with TechnologyInstitute for Computational and Data Sciences and University Libraries. To learn more about Data Science Community events or to join the community mailing list, visit https://datascience.psu.edu.