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The configurative agency of metrics in education: a research agenda involving a different engagement with data

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The increased use of quantitative education data is often regarded by scholars as evidence of the emergence of’governing by numbers’. These scholars ascribe major stakeholders such as the OECD and nation states agency as they produce, distribute and consume data, and respond to these with policy and management initiatives. This paper argues that metrics themselves have a configurative agency that affects education in terms of educational ideas and designs. The paper illustrates this point by analysing two cases of graduate employability metrics, each of which configures education differently, and discusses how the configurative agency of metrics can become the focal point of a different research agenda using distinct analytical concepts drawn from the sociology of quantification and new materialism. The paper concludes that such a research agenda can enable actors involved in the design and development of education to enter into a professional dialogue and engagement with education data, rather than merely dismissing it.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Education Policy
Pages (from-to)64-83
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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