The affect of effect: shifting standardised data conversation-research relations

Year: 2019

Author: Thiele, Catherine

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Teacher practice and student assessment results have been de-privatised via the widespread use of the now commonplace ‘data-wall’. This is a tectonic change. What was closed off and private (the classroom, the data about students) is now visible and opened up to ‘collegial’ scrutiny. In the process, pedagogy and the other ‘message systems’ of education (assessment and curriculum) have become ‘conversationalised’. Teaching and its relations to assessment scores now has to be talked about. The once inconspicuous standardisation and classification of students point-in-time test scores has now become the subject and site for intense, open-to-inspection interrogation. How one might respond pedagogically is no longer a matter for a single teacher alone.

In an accountability-driven topography, ‘data discourses’ dominate both schooling assessment regimes and research imaginaries. Student standardised data and research data classification systems sort out what is effective, who has it right and who needs fixing. Data walls, as the visceral material produced from and implicated in these discourses, are now ubiquitous. They signal a tectonic shift in how standardised data ‘works’ in relation to pedagogy and how teachers enact their pedagogical responsibilities. An educational fault line has appeared in the midst of these walls. As a teacher who has been in data-wall conversations and experienced the effects (and affects) of this fault line, research is both alluring and threatening. And now, as an early career researcher, I question the efficacy, purposes and outcomes of standardised data driven research methodologies. I wonder instead how to attune to the affectivity of data-wall conversations. I want to shift towards a more transformative, socially responsible practice desired by and enacted with teachers. A research practice deeply entangled in the affective experiences of data-wall conversations. By working/ walking beside and with teachers, belonging to the space and paying attention to emerging concepts, I aim to enact a post-qualitative inquiry; opening up to and in the educational and methodological fault lines to shift the conversations liquefying at these junctures. This paper forms part of the unfolding story of becoming through the ‘post-inquiry’ data-research journey.