Block 4 Activity 4: National Concerns about Education


Part 1

This activity requires me to read Campbell et al., (2007) Academic Analytics and Norris et al. (2009), A national agenda for action analytics .  Both papers were written before learning analytics as we know it emerged, so provide us with early definitions.

  1.  Concerns were raised in both papers about the US falling behind developing countries educationally. Campbell et al, (2007) and Norris et al.(2009) highlight that a country’s economy depends on a well-educated workforce and this is also true of Scotland through the Government’s Developing the Young Workforce initiative.
  2. Similarly, Norris et al.(2009) argue that analytics need to be developed and used within a culture of performance improvement which again lends itself to my approach of using performance data to inform teaching and learning practice across the whole establishment. The Scottish Government is in the process of introducing testing through the National Improvement Framework for Scottish Education  as part of the Raising Attainment Challenge. Big Data use is evident here and now and in the future as we become accountable for the performance of our learners and as a school.
  3. We need to build capacity within our learners and our educators and strengthen our education systems to improve learner success; and administration and academic productivity and performance.  This should ensure that our workforce has the capacity to build upon their skills and knowledge and adapt to technological advances as they occur so that we as a nation don’t fall behind other countries.
  4. Norris et al.(2009) discussed workforce connections and Web 2.0 capabilities and looking at where we are now in 2016 we are looking towards improving the use of learning analytics to inform our practice and measure it against other countries/schools/local authorities.

Part 2

Looking at the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

I looked at Norway, France, Finland, Germany, Australia and Japan as my comparison with the UK.

Although the UK came in around the average, there had been little progress made since 2009.  The UK came in 26th for maths, 23rd for reading and slipped from 16th to 21st for science.  The reduction within science was put down to other countries catching up.

Looking at Scotland’s results they were above average in reading and maths but below average for science.  This could well be why we have had a big focus on raising attainment in science and now STEM subjects.  Although Scotland did slightly better than the UK for maths and reading we are still way down the results league and need to improve to compete with other countries around the world.

My concerns relate to literacy and STEM subjects which are similar areas considered by PISA.

I believe that learning analytics could be used to focus in on maths, reading and science (and other curricular areas which feed into these subjects and address other areas covered within the assessment). Learning analytics if created to meet the needs of learners, local authorities and governments, may identify areas of weaknesses which need addressed quickly through provision of extra support/resources. The learning analytics could be used to inform progress annually.

The learning analytics used would need to be standardised if going to be used as a comparison with other countries – although some form of moderation between Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland may be a good starting point.


Campbell, J.P., DeBlois, P.B. and Oblinger, D. G. (2007) ‘Academic analytics: a new tool for a new era’, Educause Review, vol, 42, no. 4, pp. 40-57; also available online at (accessed on 04 July 2016).

Coughlan, S. (2013) ‘Pisa tests: UK stagnates as Shanghi tops league table’, BBC News Education & Family [online], available at (accessed 04 July 2016).

Norris, D., Baer, L. and Offerman, M. (2009) ‘A national agenda for action analytics’, paper presented at the National Symposium on Action Analytics, 21-23 September 2009, St Paul, Minnesota, USA; also available online at (accessed 04 July 2016).

The Nordic Page (2013) ‘Norway left behind Denmark and Finland in new PISA survey ‘ The Nordic Page, 3 December [online], available at (accessed 04 July 2016).



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