Educational data, Pearson and the ‘theory gap’

Jan 19, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

It's a bit surprising to find this post on Pearson's blog (and a bit less surprising to find Pearson's response). In this post Stirling University's Ben Williamson offers several reasons to question Pearson's claim that it is opening up a "theory gap" with its creation and release of big data sets. "Pearson is becoming a methodological gatekeeper with the capacity to carry out new forms of educational research using large-scale datasets, big data and data science methods," writes Williamson. But this data is not theory-neeutral - no data is - and it builds in presuppositions about what is important and what constitutes 'success'.

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