The ‘dilemma of authority’ in the 21st Century: A critical discourse analysis of a student attendance and engagement data monitoring policy at a UK university.
Keywords:widening participation, student engagement, learning analytics, ethics, higher education
Drawing on Fairclough’s Dialectical-Relational Approach the paper offers a critical discourse analysis of documents relating to the introduction of predictive learning analytics at a UK university. It is concerned with the semiotic realisation of strategies of pathologisation and responsibilisation in Higher Education responses to widening participation. Authority discourses in institutional texts indicate an ambivalent attitude to students that fluctuates between different discourses, two of which are identified as the ‘Here to help’ and ‘Over to you’ discourses. The paper posits a new discursive positioning for students as ‘assets’ rather than learners, partners or clients. At the micro level, the ‘Concerned tutor’ discourse indicates a diminished authority position for academics which parallels the responsibilization of personal tutors in ensuring student success and engagement. The discursive ambivalence suggests that institutions need to maintain ethical vigilance when introducing learning analytics policies in order to maintain stated institutional values of partnership and justice.
Copyright (c) 2023 Ruth Roberts
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Authors who publish with Critical Education agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).