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Joshua Wilson - University of Delaware. Newark, DE, US

Joshua Wilson

Associate Professor, Education | University of Delaware


Prof. Wilson's research focuses on ways that technology and artificial intelligence can improve the teaching and learning of writing.






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Dr. Joshua Wilson is an associate professor in the School of Education at the University of Delaware. His research broadly focuses on ways to improve the teaching, learning, and assessment of writing and specifically focuses on ways that automated writing evaluation systems can facilitate those improvements. His research has been supported by grants from federal, foundation, and industry sponsors and has been published in journals such as Computers & Education, Journal of Educational Computing Research, Journal of Educational Psychology, and Journal of School Psychology among others. Dr. Wilson has or currently sits on the editorial boards of such top journals as Assessing Writing, Gifted Child Quarterly, Journal of Educational Psychology, and Journal of Learning Disabilities.

He also helps coordinate the M.Ed. in Exceptional Child and Youth program and teaches courses on elementary special education methods.

Prior to earning his Ph.D., Dr. Wilson was a special education teacher for six years.

Industry Expertise (1)


Areas of Expertise (8)

Writing Instruction

Writing Assessment

Automated Scoring

Automated Feedback

Artificial Intelligence in Education

Educational Psychology

Learning Disabilities

Special Education

Media Appearances (8)

Education professor studies how to use artificial intelligence effectively in the classroom

NBC10  tv


Wilson spoke about best practices for utilizing A.I. in education.

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EDITORIAL: The wide new world of AI

Delaware Business Times  online


I’ve been watching with interest as recent advances in artificial intelligence have reached fairly astounding stages. For most of our lives, AI was something limited to science fiction depictions like HAL 9000 in “2001: A Space Odyssey” or Skynet in “The Terminator.” All of that changed in November, when the California tech company OpenAI released

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Writing without thinking? There’s a place for ChatGPT — if used properly | GUEST COMMENTARY

The Baltimore Sun  online


ChatGPT, OpenAI’s fast-growing language model that can write everything from essays to poems and even computer code, is roiling classrooms from middle school to graduate school, leading school districts across the country — including in Seattle, Los Angeles and New York City — to ban its use. But should they?

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ChatGPT is a wake-up call to revamp how we teach writing | Opinion

Philadelphia Inquirer  online


Writing instruction should empower students to think critically, be creative, and have a personal connection to the writing process and what they’re learning. If we do this, ChatGPT is no threat.

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ChatbotGPT worries teachers who seek to detect cheating by AI

The Washington Post  online


The stakes are high. Many teachers agree that learning to write can take place only as students grapple with ideas and put them into sentences. Students start out not knowing what they want to say, and as they write, they figure it out. “The process of writing transforms our knowledge,” said Joshua Wilson, an associate professor in the School of Education at the University of Delaware. “That will completely get lost if all you’re doing is jumping to the end product.”

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Writing test added to Philly’s selective admissions process is being misused, professor says

Philadelphia Inquirier  online


Joshua Wilson, an associate professor at the University of Delaware who studies automated essay scoring, said the writing tool is meant to identify struggling learners and inform classroom instruction, not make high-stakes decisions about students’ futures. “No one has done research on whether it can be used to make placement decisions,” Wilson said about the writing tool, MI Write, which is a product made by Measurement Inc., based in Durham, N.C. Using it this way is a “mistake,” he said.

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Listen: Automation in Education Technology with Joshua Wilson, PhD

MarketScale  online


On today’s episode of the Podcast, we get to chat with Joshua Wilson, PhD., from the University of Delaware. We discuss the emergence of software that can assess a student’s writing ability (with an eye towards helping them where they struggle). We also talk about the change in educational approaches, the developing role of technology in the classroom, and how automation can make a huge impact on the world of scoring and grading in schools.

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How U of Michigan Built Automated Essay-Scoring Software to Fill ‘Feedback Gap’ for Student Writing

EdSurge  online


The university’s launch of ATA is part of a growing nationwide trend in both K-12 and higher education classrooms, according to Joshua Wilson, assistant professor of education at the University of Delaware. Wilson researches the application of automated essay scoring. “I project the fastest adoption in the K-12 arena, and pretty quick adoption at community colleges, where it is helpful for remedial English courses,” Wilson says.

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Articles (5)

Writing Motivation and Ability Profiles and Transition During a Technology-Based Writing Intervention

Frontiers in Psychology

2023 We identified writing motivation and ability profiles and transition paths of 2,487 U.S. middle-school students participating in an automated writing evaluation (AWE) intervention using MI Write. Four motivation and ability profiles emerged from a latent transition analysis with self-reported writing self-efficacy, attitudes toward writing, and writing ability measures: Low, Low/Mid, Mid/High, and High. Most students started the school year in the Low/Mid (38%) and Mid/High (30%) profiles. Only 11% of students started the school year in the High profile. Between 50 and 70% of students maintained the same profile in the Spring. Approximately 30% of students were likely to move one profile higher in the Spring.

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Examining Human and Automated Ratings of Elementary Students’ Writing Quality: A Multivariate Generalizability Theory Application

American Educational Research Journal

2022 We used multivariate generalizability theory to examine the reliability of hand-scoring and automated essay scoring (AES) and to identify how these scoring methods could be used in conjunction to optimize writing assessment. Students (n = 113) included subsamples of struggling writers and non-struggling writers in Grades 3–5 drawn from a larger study. Students wrote six essays across three genres. All essays were hand-scored by four raters and an AES system called Project Essay Grade (PEG). Both scoring methods were highly reliable, but PEG was more reliable for non-struggling students, while hand-scoring was more reliable for struggling students.

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Upper-Elementary Students’ Metacognitive Knowledge about Writing and Its Relationship to Writing Outcomes across Genres

The Elementary School Journal

2022 This study investigated fourth and fifth graders’ metacognitive knowledge about writing and its relationship to writing performance to help identify areas that might be leveraged when designing effective writing instruction. Students’ metacognitive knowledge was probed using a 30-minute informative writing prompt requiring students to teach their reader how to be a good writer (i.e., a metawriting task). The metawriting task was coded for eight dimensions of metacognitive knowledge. Students’ writing performance was assessed via additional 30-minute prompts—two narrative, one informative, two persuasive—and evaluated for quality and length using automated essay scoring.

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Integrating goal-setting and automated feedback to improve writing outcomes: a pilot study

Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching

2022 Purpose This study presents results from a pilot intervention that integrated self-regulation through reflection and goal setting with automated writing evaluation (AWE) technology to improve students’ writing outcomes. Methods We employed a single-group pretest-posttest design. All students in Grades 5–8 (N = 56) from one urban, all female, public-charter middle school completed pretest and posttest measures of writing beliefs and writing performance. In between pretest and posttest, students completed monthly goal-setting activities via a Qualtrics survey and monthly persuasive writing practice via prompts completed within an AWE system.

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Investigating the promise of automated writing evaluation for supporting formative writing assessment at scale

Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice

2022 We investigated the promise of a novel approach to formative writing assessment at scale that involved an automated writing evaluation (AWE) system called MI Write. Specifically, we investigated elementary teachers’ perceptions and implementation of MI Write and changes in students’ writing performance in three genres from Fall to Spring associated with this implementation. Teachers in Grades 3–5 (n = 14) reported that MI Write was usable and acceptable, useful, and desirable; however, teachers tended to implement MI Write in a limited manner. Multilevel repeated measures analyses indicated that students in Grades 3–5 (n = 570) tended not to increase their performance from Fall to Spring except for third graders in all genres and fourth graders’ narrative writing.

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Research Grants (3)

Efficacy of MI Write automated writing evaluation for improving writing outcomes of students who are Black, Hispanic, and experiencing poverty

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation $1,490,639


Automated formative writing assessment using a levels-of-language framework: Exploring construct and predictive validity in grades 3-5

Spencer Foundation $49,581


A researcher-practitioner partnership examining the use of automated essay evaluation software for improving students' writing achievement

U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences $399,999


Accomplishments (3)

Gerard J. Mangone Young Scholars Award in Social Sciences and Humanities, Francis Alison Society, University of Delaware (professional)


Dean’s Faculty Research Award, College of Education and Human Development, University of Delaware (professional)


Harris Kahn Dissertation Award, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Connecticut (professional)


Education (3)

University of Connecticut: PhD, Special Education 2014

Southern Connecticut State University: MS, Special Education 2005

Wesleyan University: BA, Religion 2000

Affiliations (5)

  • American Educational Research Association
  • American Psychological Association
  • Council for Exceptional Children
  • International Society for the Advancement of Writing Research
  • National Council on Measurement in Education

Languages (1)

  • English

Event Appearances (4)

Impact of MI Write automated writing evaluation on middle grade writing outcomes

(2023) Annual conference of the National Council on Measurement in Education  Chicago, IL

Middle-school writing motivation: Profiles and transition in response to a technology-based writing intervention

(2023) Annual conference of the American Educational Research Association  Chicago, IL

Developing writing proficiency through goal-setting and automated feedback.

(2022) Annual conference of the American Educational Research Association  San Diego, CA

A generalizability theory approach to the PEG automated essay scoring system

(2018) Annual conference of the National Council on Measurement in Education  New York, NY