Tracking technology: exploring student experiences of school datafication

Luci Pangrazio, Neil Selwyn, Bronwyn Cumbo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The use of digital technologies within schools is leading to the increased generation, processing and circulation of data relating to students. To date, academic research around this ‘datafication’ of schools and schooling has tended to focus on institutional issues of governance and commercialisation, with relatively little consideration of students’ experiences. Drawing on focus group discussions with 62 students across three Australian secondary schools, the paper explores students’ experiences of school datafication in terms of power, surveillance and affect. It highlights students’ relatively constrained and distanced relations with school technology use, schools’ use of data to enforce student accountability and self-regulation of behaviour, as well students’ perceived powerlessness to engage agentically in digital practices. Drawing on notions of ‘digital resignation’ and ‘surveillance realism’, the paper concludes by considering the extent to which students might be supported to meaningfully engage with (and possibly resist) the constraining ‘atmospheres’ of datafication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)847-862
Number of pages16
JournalCambridge Journal of Education
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • affect
  • Datafication
  • schools and schooling
  • students
  • surveillance

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