Project update: Biology, data science and the making of precision education

15 Sep 2021
Decorative project image of circuit board

About Biology, data science and the making of precision education

Advanced technologies that can process complex biological data have transformed the human sciences, and are now being used to conduct studies and generate new knowledge in the field of education. 'Biology, data science and the making of precision education' examines data-intensive biology as a science-in-the-making and its positioning as a potentially policy-relevant science with significant practical and political implications in education. The overarching objective of the study is to identify and interrogate the organizations, expertise, laboratory practices, and technological machinery that make precision education possible.

The project brings together Dr Ben Williamson, Dr Dimitra Kotouza and Dr Martyn Pickersgill (University of Edinburgh) and Dr Jessica Pykett (University of Birmingham).

Why is it important?

‘Biology, data science, and the making of precision education’ will question how and why precision education is being developed in order to understand the methodological and technical processes that underpin its knowledge claims.  As a result, the project will identify the practical, political and ethical consequences of these new ways of thinking about biology in education.

Precision education builds on advanced computer technologies and their application in biological sciences, new scientific knowledge about the biological underpinnings of learning and educational outcomes, and advanced computer techniques (biosensors and brain scanners) to assess the biological aspects of learning. These developments propose that diverse forms of biological data produced with computers may be fused together and analysed to develop insights into learning and educational outcomes. For some precision education promoters, biological data may even be used to predict individual outcomes, and to create ‘personalized learning’ interventions that are tailored and targeted to the individual student’s unique biological profile.