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. https://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2016.1223834
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.