Magazine article Technology & Learning

Data Can Drive Development: How Does Data Relate to Improved Classroom Instruction? an Expert Staff Developer Shares Insights and Strategies in This Article Borrowed from Techlearning.Com

Magazine article Technology & Learning

Data Can Drive Development: How Does Data Relate to Improved Classroom Instruction? an Expert Staff Developer Shares Insights and Strategies in This Article Borrowed from Techlearning.Com

Article excerpt

Teaching practice can improve if teachers are able to look at themselves and student data in an objective manner. In most education training programs, teachers are not taught to use data to design curriculum and analyze their instructional practices. They need training in both data management and analysis as well as in facilitating discussions about data. As professional developers, we can show teachers how to collect the appropriate data and evidence, analyze it for gaps in learning areas, find the patterns and themes that show over time, work with them to develop curriculum that meets those needs, and then help them modify their teaching.

Teacher Research

Teacher research can be a valuable component of teachers' professional development. Professional developers can facilitate this research process:

* Help teachers focus on a problem on which they would like to reflect. It could be their teaching practice or a particular curriculum area.

* Collect data or evidence over a specified time period to help teachers examine their teaching practice. Evidence could be in the form of videos of classroom practice, samples of student work, or interviews with students and colleagues.

* Analyze the evidence or data by looking at themes or patterns. You could create a database to input evidence under specific labels.

* Record the teacher's findings from the evidence along with steps to take for improvement or an explanation of why something worked. This can allow them to use what they found to modify how they teach.

Patterns and Themes

Teachers collect data all the time, but it is our job as professional developers to help them understand how recurring patterns or themes can improve their teaching practice. Being able to analyze data patterns helps teachers justify the need for professional development and further an understanding of assessment. You can show them how to do this in a professional development session at the middle or end of the year.

* Create a chart similar to the one below, adding or deleting any categories.

* Demonstrate how to check for understandings by triangulating evidence to look for same themes or patterns in more than two types of data.

* Encourage teachers to try to be objective and nonjudgmental and to share their findings with other educators so they can bounce ideas off each other.

Data Collection Tools

Professional developers can create several instruments that teachers can use to look for evidence over a specific period, allowing them to become assessment literate. You can create:

* Disaggregated student data in a spreadsheet or chart

* A classroom observation tool using a form, checklist, or database

* An interview form to use with colleagues, students, and parents

* Teacher, parent, and student surveys

* A digital portfolio for each teacher to collect evidence

* Performance assessment tools that include examples of student products

* Threaded discussions, other online discussion tools, or databases for teachers to store or share reflections of what is working or not

Mary Herring of the Educational Technology Division of the University of Northern Iowa shared a data collection and analysis process they are using to assess the level of standards attainment by students. This process came about as a result of an application for national recognition using AECT/NCATE's Educational Communications and Information Technology standards. The division members developed rubrics for all assignments, then identified which standard each component addressed.

Spreadsheets track how students do on each component. Then they see where students are falling short of the target level and discuss with the division ways the curriculum or learning environment can be changed so students will attain the learning goals. …

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