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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Social Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Small data, online learning and assessment practices in higher education: a case study of failure?
Author(s): Watson, Cate
Wilson, Anna
Drew, Valerie
Thompson, Terrie Lynn
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Keywords: Future-oriented learning
Learning Analytics
professional learning
teaching excellence framework (TEF)
Issue Date: 2017
Citation: Watson C, Wilson A, Drew V & Thompson TL (2017) Small data, online learning and assessment practices in higher education: a case study of failure?. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 42 (7), pp. 1030-1045.
Abstract: In this paper we present an in-depth case study of a single student who failed an online module which formed part of a masters programme in Professional Education and Leadership. We use this case study to examine assessment practices in higher education in the online environment. In taking this approach we go against the current predilection for Big Data which has given rise to ‘learning analytics’, a data-intensive approach to monitoring learning. In particular we draw attention to the model of the learner produced by learning analytics and to issues of ‘dataveillance’ in online learning. We also use the case to examine assessment in higher education more broadly, exploring the tensions between the requirements for certification and the need for learning. We conclude that assessment practices in higher education may have more to do with ‘quality assurance’ and regulatory frameworks than with ‘enhancing the student experience’ and inculcating the qualities that mark out higher education as an ethical project.
DOI Link: 10.1080/02602938.2016.1223834
Rights: This item has been embargoed for a period. During the embargo please use the Request a Copy feature at the foot of the Repository record to request a copy directly from the author. You can only request a copy if you wish to use this work for your own research or private study. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education on 25 Aug 2016, available online:

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