Epistemology, Assessment, Pedagogy: Where Learning Meets Analytics in the Middle Space


  • Simon Knight The Open University
  • Simon Buckingham Shum The Open University
  • Karen Littleton The Open University




Learning analytics, epistemology, pedagogy, educational assessment, discourse analytics, social learning analytics


Learning Analytics is an emerging research field and design discipline that occupies the “middle space” between the learning sciences/educational research and the use of computational techniques to capture and analyze data (Suthers & Verbert, 2013). We propose that the literature examining the triadic relationships between epistemology (the nature of knowledge), pedagogy (the nature of learning and teaching), and assessment provide critical considerations for bounding this middle space. We provide examples to illustrate the ways in which the understandings of particular analytics are informed by this triad. As a detailed worked example of how one might design analytics to scaffold a specific form of higher order learning, we focus on the construct of epistemic beliefs: beliefs about the nature of knowledge. We argue that analytics grounded in a pragmatic, socio-cultural perspective are well placed to explore this construct using discourse-centric technologies. The examples provided throughout this paper, through emphasizing the consideration of intentional design issues in the middle space, underscore the “interpretative flexibility” (Hamilton & Feenberg, 2005) of new technologies, including analytics.

Author Biographies

Simon Knight, The Open University

PhD student in the Knowledge Media Institute

Simon Buckingham Shum, The Open University

Professor of Learning Informatics in the Knowledge Media Institute

Karen Littleton, The Open University

Professor of Psychology in Education in the Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technologies




How to Cite

Knight, S., Buckingham Shum, S., & Littleton, K. (2014). Epistemology, Assessment, Pedagogy: Where Learning Meets Analytics in the Middle Space. Journal of Learning Analytics, 1(2), 23‐47. https://doi.org/10.18608/jla.2014.12.3

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