11 SES 13, Data Use in Education: Alluring attributes and productive processes
This editorial paper of a special issue on Data use in education highlights the striking variation in what is embraced by the concept of data use in education. In the literature, the concept of data use frames information collected by the use of more or less systematic methods, at all levels of the education system from the transnational to the classroom. It covers results from standardized tests to survey data and register data as well as information reported by practitioners. The special issue reflects this variability by being varied, in theoretical frameworks, methods, focus, and contexts. A dominating amount of this research still focus on the structures of data use (how data use practices are organized) and how to get practitioners to use data (best practices). Less attention has been given to the practices of data use. Little emphasis has been placed on the data use practices. Another aspect is the lack of theory building which might explain the attributes of data use being everywhere and everything and by that risking being nothing (Prøitz et al. 2017). Data in itself is considered to be efficient, standardized, uniform, and intuitive measures productive for usage in a range of processes for the development of education, teaching and learning (Lundahl et al. 2017, Pettersson et al. 2017, Mellander 2017). The very same attributes can lead to exaggerated expectations of what can be achieved on the basis of data and the simplification of complex education processes (Hovdhaugen et al. 2017, Prøitz et al. 2017). The term data in itself is quite abstract, and other terms could enhance precise communication around what the object of investigation is. We would argue that the attributes of data use can be alluring and mask important aspects, knowledge and nuances which are important for productive developments in education. This editorial takes these issues into consideration on the basis of the nine contributions included in the special issue which report on research from a range of contexts and countries, and methodologies. The findings of the studies call for further studies on what data use is, how and whether the concept of data use can be useful in education research, education practice and education policy. The editorial paper discusses issues embedded in data use and ask, what constitutes data and data use, which has consequences for the magnitude of associations they produce, negative as well as positive.
Hovdhaugen, E. & Seeland, I. (2017) National test results – representation and misrepresentation, NordSTEP, forthcoming Challenges for municipal and local school administration in Norway Lundahl, C. Hulten, M. & Tveit, S. (2017)The power of grades: How teachers' internal assessments become legitimate external data on the quality of education, NordSTEP, forthcoming Pettersson,D. Lindblad, S. & Popkewitz, T. (2017) In the grey zone: Activities betwixt and between governmental policies, research and practice, NordSTEP, forthcoming Prøitz, Mausethagen & Skedsmo (2017) Literature review on data use in education: characteristics, challenges and results, NordSTEP, forthcoming
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