Newsletter Sensitivity Reviews: Introducing Sandra Sweeney

By Megan Welsh posted 12-11-2020 20:15


I am happy to announce that the newsletter is piloting a process for conducting sensitivity reviews to ensure that newsletter content is respectful of the full membership. The goal of the reviews is to improve communication by avoiding language that could cause unintentional harm to underrepresented groups, such as racial minorities, members of the LGBTQ community, members with disabilities, immigrants, and women.

The process involves sending work to a reviewer who reads articles and attempts to identify any terms that some readers might find offensive or upsetting. If such language is identified, the reviewer alerts the newsletter editor who rereads the piece. If deemed necessary, the editor will contact the author and ask them to revise their work or insert a content warning to alert readers of potentially harmful content.  For example, all newsletter pieces were jointly reviewed and found to not contain any harmful content. One piece was flagged for extra review because it described experiences in a plane crash. However, the depiction of that experience is not graphic and therefore does not require a content warning according to my understanding of content warning best practices.

I am happy to announce that Sandra (Botha) Sweeney agreed to develop and pilot the sensitivity review process.

Sandra Sweeney is a doctoral candidate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst under the advisement of Stephen G. Sireci.  She earned her BA degree in Psychology from Mount Holyoke College.  Her research interests include examinee engagement, equity, fairness, and validity issues in assessment.  She is especially interested in the experience and perspectives of minoritized students and factors that influence their engagement, sense of agency, and identity in assessments.  Currently, she is involved in a research-practice partnership project aimed at promoting equity in computer science education and assessment in an urban school district.  Her doctoral research is focused on taking a student-centered approach to culturally responsive assessment design.   Her contribution to the newsletter is greatly appreciated.