Publication - Algorithms in the educational context: a study of the perception, opinion and attitude of pupils and parents in Flanders

(21-12-2021) Every year imec-mict-UGent and the knowledge centre for data and society set up a survey study and monitor the attitudes and behaviors towards data-driven technologies.

This year we investigated how algorithms are used in an educational context. Our research focused on the attitudes of parents and pupils towards algorithms in education.

Overall, the results show that both parents and students are quite positive about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data-driven technologies. Especially students display a certain degree of concern towards algorithms. Taken into account the specific uses, it is noticeable how parents are hesitative about using algorithms for more personal uses in the educational context (e.g. predicting if someone would fail in the end of the year) as opposed to more group-oriented purposes (e.g. predicting the scores of a class) .

Parents and pupils are in agreement on what kind of data algorithms should be allowed to use. School-related information (e.g. grades or learning progress) is considered acceptable, whereas more personal characteristics or background information is not. An aggregation of personal information at the class level, however, is also considered appropriate.  Our respondents were reluctant to share insights with corporations and third parties. Only organizations that are directly linked to their education are accepted.

In short, pupils and parents are mostly open to the use of algorithms in education but have clear reservations about what these algorithms might be used for, what data might be used and with whom these insights might be shared.

The Dutch report and a podcast discussing the results can be found here.