Is a Faulty Chatbot Leading a Prominent Education Research Organization?

Earlier this year, concerns were raised about the possibility of a malfunctioning chatbot exerting control over a leading education research journal. The perplexing, robotic language used by the editors obscured the presence of human intervention.

Recently, there are troubling indications that a similar dubious AI entity, or one of its counterparts, has assumed leadership at the American Education Research Association (AERA), the self-proclaimed largest organization of education researchers worldwide. To assess this claim, an investigation using a modified Turing Test was conducted by scrutinizing the extensive description of the presidential program. By presenting unaltered excerpts, a determination will be made on whether the content reflects human or artificial origin. (As Dave Barry famously wisecracked, “I’m not making this up.” Really.)

Photo of Rick Hess with text "Old School with Rick Hess"

Rick: Let’s establish a baseline. Where do education researchers operate?

AERA Presidential Program (APP): “Our research is conducted across various settings such as universities, schools, community colleges, professional training programs, museums, libraries, think tanks, advocacy groups, philanthropic organizations, and governmental contexts.”

Rick: Impressive diversity! Is there a commonality among these researchers?

APP: “Our engagement in the field unites us as researchers who produce, consume, interpret, and implement research.”

Rick: You’ve outlined a motif for the upcoming AERA conference. Can you elaborate on it?

APP: “The 2025 AERA Annual Meeting represents an important opportunity to reflect on the significant challenges and changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing social and environmental crises; to review the history of initiatives aimed at addressing educational inequities through legal, policy, instructional, and pedagogical means; to explore ways in which research can contribute to solutions; and ultimately, to participate in comprehensive healing for those who have experienced harm, loss, and trauma.”

Rick: Apologies, but could you summarize that for clarity?

APP: . . .

Rick: Moving on, you mentioned the concept of “remedy.” How have schools addressed this?

APP: “In the realm of education, the idea of remedy has often been misinterpreted to necessitate remedial teaching methods, attributing deficiencies to individual learners, institutions, and educational systems rather than critically evaluating our establishments, societal processes, politics, policies, and our research methods that perpetuate knowledge hierarchies and epistemological divisions.”

Rick: It appears that traditional academic subjects are not the primary focus. So, what are the key issues in education research?

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