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“We’re being tracked at all times”: Student perspectives of their privacy in relation to learning analytics in higher education

Jones, Kyle M. L. and Asher, Andrew and Goben, Abigail and Perry, Michael R. and Salo, Dorothea and Briney, Kristin A. and Robertshaw, M. Brooke (2020) “We’re being tracked at all times”: Student perspectives of their privacy in relation to learning analytics in higher education. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 71 (9). pp. 1044-1059. ISSN 2330-1643.

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Higher education institutions are continuing to develop their capacity for learning analytics (LA), which is a sociotechnical data mining and analytic practice. Institutions rarely inform their students about LA practices and there exist significant privacy concerns. Without a clear student voice in the design of LA, institutions put themselves in an ethical grey area. To help fill this gap in practice and add to the growing literature on students’ privacy perspectives, this study reports findings from over 100 interviews with undergraduate students at eight United States highereducation institutions. Findings demonstrate that students lacked awareness of educational data mining and analytic practices, as well as the data on which they rely. Students see potential in LA, but they presented nuanced arguments about when and with whom data should be shared; they also expressed why informed consent was valuable and necessary. The study uncovered perspectives on institutional trust that were heretofore unknown, as well as what actions might violate that trust. Institutions must balance their desire to implement LA with their obligation to educate students about their analytic practices and treat them as partners in the design of analytic strategies reliant on student data in order to protect their intellectual privacy.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Asher, Andrew0000-0002-8600-2191
Goben, Abigail0000-0002-6520-3648
Salo, Dorothea0000-0002-6388-0311
Briney, Kristin A.0000-0003-1802-0184
Additional Information:© 2020 Association for Information Science and Technology. Issue Online: 06 August 2020; Version of Record online: 06 April 2020; Manuscript accepted: 20 March 2020; Manuscript revised: 06 February 2020; Manuscript received: 30 August 2019. This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (LG-96-18-0044-18). The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this paper do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The team thanks its research assistants for their support: Tanisha Afnan (Indiana UniversityIndianapolis), Aubree Tillett (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), Susan Rowe (Oregon State University), Ashwed Patil (Indiana University-Bloomington), and Donovan Pogue (Indiana University-Bloomington). The team also expresses its thanks to the anonymous peer reviewers for their insightful and constructive feedback. A version of this article was first published in the 2019 proceedings of the Association of College and Research Libraries’ annual meeting.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Institute of Museum and Library ServicesLG‐96‐18‐0044‐18
Subject Keywords:Higher education, student privacy, learning analytics, ethics, data
Issue or Number:9
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200330-152212500
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Jones, KML, Asher, A, Goben, A, et al. “We're being tracked at all times”: Student perspectives of their privacy in relation to learning analytics in higher education. J Assoc Inf Sci Technol. 2020; 71: 1044– 1059.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:102175
Deposited By: Kristin Briney
Deposited On:31 Mar 2020 16:50
Last Modified:20 Aug 2020 23:44

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