Deficit, asset, or whole person? Institutional data practices that impact belongingness

Nastasha Johnson, Megan Sapp Nelson, Katherine Yngve

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Given the capitalist model of higher education that has developed since the 1980s, the data collected by institutions of higher education on students is based on micro-targeting to understand and retain students as consumers, and to retain that customer base (i.e. to prevent attrition/dropouts). Institutional data has long been collected but the authors will question how, why, and for whom the data is collected in the current higher education model. The authors will then turn to the current higher education focus on equity, diversity, inclusion, and particularly on the concept of belongingness in higher education. The authors question the collective and local purposes of institutional data collection and the fallout of the current practices and will argue that using existing institutional data to facilitate student belongingness is impossible with current practices. We will propose a new framework of asset-minded institutional data practices that centers the student as a whole person and recenters data collection away from the concept of students as commodities. We propose a new framework based on data feminism that intends to elevate qualitative data and all persons/experiences along the bell-shaped curve, not just the middle two quadrants.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalIASSIST Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 28 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • data management
  • institutional data
  • asset mindedness
  • critical methodologies


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