The next talk in the 2020-21 Research Seminar Series in Science & Technology Studies (STS) takes place on Nov. 10 from 12:30 to 2 p.m. and features York Science & Technology Associate Professor James Elwick. His presentation is titled “On exams and standardized testing: ten lessons from history.”
This talk is rooted in Elwick’s forthcoming book, Making a Grade, which talks about one historical period when there emerged certain ways to standardize tests. In his presentation abstract, Elwick states: “This talk takes 10 of its findings and relates them to present-day cases at York University, in Ontario, and around the world. These include why achievement exams usually start out as ‘cameras’ to neutrally assess students but then turn into ‘engines’ used to raise academic standards and anxiety; how to prevent cheating at an individual and institutional level; and different ways in which exams can be used to generate rankings and other metrics of accountability.”
All events will be delivered all academic year via Zoom. Contact the Seminar Series Coordinator Connor Douglas prior to the talk for the Zoom link by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now in its 27th year, the series has hosted hundreds of experts from across Canada and around the world presenting on a wide range of STS-related topics. The talks are free and open to the public, and STS majors are encouraged to attend this and all events in the series.
Elwick studies the history of written science examinations, focusing on the historical ‘arms races’ between examiners and the people trying to beat their tests. This includes everything from instructors ‘teaching to the test’ to unlikely exam coaches such as H.G. Wells; from students desperately ‘cramming’ for exams to candidates finding inventive ways to cheat on them. He also works on the history of the life sciences, situating technical research in its cultural and social context. Specific topics include biological individuality, the work of the evolutionary polymath Herbert Spencer, and common methods found across the life sciences and neurosciences of the early-to-mid 19th century.
The series is sponsored by York University’s Department of Science & Technology Studies, Faculty of Science, and coordinated by members of the department. For more information about the Research Seminar Series in Science & Technology Studies, contact Douglas at email@example.com or visit sts.info.yorku.ca/seminar-series.