action research, Assessment for Learning (AfL), formative automated writing evaluation, Natural Language Processing (NLP), response to writing, standpoint theory, theory of action, theory of transactional distance, Writing Mentor (WM), writing technologies


In writing studies research, automated writing evaluation technology is typically examined for a specific, often narrow purpose: to evaluate a particular writing improvement measure, to mine data for changes in writing performance, or to demonstrate the effectiveness of a single technology and accompanying validity arguments. This article adopts a broader perspective and offers a standpoint theory of action for formative automated writing evaluation (fAWE). Following presentation of the features of our standpoint theory of action, we describe our two study sites, and each instructor documents her experiences using the fAWE application (app), Writing Mentor® (WM). One instructor analyzes experiences using the app with nontraditional adult learners to provide career pathway access through a high school equivalency (HSE) credential awarded by successful completion of the GED® (General Educational Development Test) or of the HiSET® (High School Equivalency Test). A second instructor analyzes WM experiences working with a diverse population of two-year college students enrolled in first-year writing. These instructors’ experiences are used to propose two theory-of-action frameworks based on the instructors’ standpoints, with particular attention to fAWE components, pedagogies, and consequences. To explore the representativeness of these two case studies, we also analyze student feature use and self-reported self-efficacy data from a general sample (N = 5,595) collected through WM user engagement. We conclude by emphasizing the pedagogical potential of writing technologies, the advantages of instructionally situating these technologies, and the value of using standpoint theories of action as a way to anticipate local impact.



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