Creating a data-driven classroom may sound intimidating, but it can be easy once you learn how to collect, analyze, and make changes based on classroom data.
With the recent push for increased classroom data analysis, it feels as though the job description of a teacher should include statistician. Collecting data, and especially analyzing it, can be a daunting task. Yet, as classroom teachers, you are probably already collecting all sorts of data from your students on a daily basis – it may just take one or two more steps to do something valuable with it. Here are some strategies that will help you create an effective data-driven classroom.
Becoming a Data-Driven Classroom
First things first, you need to collect the data! Many schools have access to software that can collect and even analyze data when using a multiple choice assessment, such as Scantron and MasteryConnect, but if these are not available to you, or you are not giving this type of assessment, there are still many strategies you can use to collect assessment data and become a data-driven teacher.
Recruit your students for a quick way to collect assessment data! Create a horizontal strip of paper that has a numbered block for each question on the assessment. Ask students to color or shade in the blocks of the questions that they got wrong. This can be done either after the assessment is already graded, or as you go over an assessment with the class. Collect the strips and line them up on another piece of paper or on the inside of a file folder. Look at the frequency of shaded blocks for a simple visual version of the data from this assessment.
Student Response Devices
Utilize student response devices or systems to collect formative assessment. If your school does not have a set of devices to use, utilize student laptops, tablets, or cell phones for a fun way to become a data-driven classroom. This will allow both you and the students to see live data on anything that you would like to assess. Socrative and Kahoot are two great websites to get you started.
Google Forms provide a great way to collect some valuable data. Create a form with multiple choice or short answer questions, send the link to your students, and watch the data compile into a spreadsheet! If you have a flipped classroom, this would useful means of data collection from home. However it is used, Google Forms is a great tool for formative assessment or collecting data to meet individual students needs as a data-driven teacher.
If your school does not have access to grading software, you can still use your own through a variety of websites. For example, GradeCam enables you to take pictures of a bubble sheet to then grade and analyze the data for you! There are many sites out there with a variety of free or paid versions.
Analyzing the Data
No matter how you collect your data, it is important to take the time to look at the data and find meaning. There may be one major concept that the majority of students struggled with. There may be one question that really stumped your students because of the wording or answer choices. This is where the data becomes very valuable and can provide essential insight into your teaching, your assessment, and your students.
Standard or Concept
Organize your assessments by standard, indicator or concept. This will allow you to quickly analyze if students are struggling with one particular topic. You may find that one class mastered the concept, while another did not. Or perhaps they all had trouble. Reviewing data in this way will enable to you assess your own teaching effectiveness and allow you to reteach concepts as necessary.
Did the majority of your students miss the same question? This could be the result of a few things. First look at how the question was worded. Was there something misleading or unclear? Second, look at the answer choices. This is especially needed if most of the students selected the same wrong response. Was there a choice that could also be considered correct? Was one of the choices worded incorrectly? Third, assess how the question addressed what you taught in class. Was it presented in a similar way? Were the students unable to apply skills to new situations? Being able to address issues with assessments and the transfer of concepts is more major advantage of data-driven teaching.
Bring data to your Professional Learning Community (PLC). This is especially needed if you use common assessments. Compare how students did in each class. Did they all struggle with the same thing, or was it different in each class? Take advantage of each other’s strengths and brainstorm how to best teach the missed concept. Switch classrooms to reteach, or share teaching strategies.
Enhancing Data-Driven Teaching
Now that you have analyzed the data, what are you going to do with? This data has a lot of value beyond being a discussion point at your next PLC meeting. Formative and summative assessment data can be a valuable tool to differentiate instruction, design classroom activities, or reflect on your own teaching. This is the last step in any data-driven classroom.
If you have organized your assessments by standard, indicator or concept, set goals for mastery. For example, you may say that students need to answer four out of six questions about chemical reactions to “master” that concept. If they have not, the student “needs to master” that concept. Create centers that students may use to reinforce or reteach the skills that they still need to master. This will individualize learning and provide help where they need it. This works best as a review before a larger summative assessment.
Small Group Pull Out
Help students who struggled by placing them in a small group setting. Group your students using the data and provide instruction away from the whole class. This will allow you to really target individual student needs.
If the majority of your class had difficulty with a large concept, take the time to reteach. Use new activities to apply the same skills, or reinforce the concept with similar problem sets. Ask a partner teacher to share their strategies or to teach your students in a new way.
While data analysis can seem overwhelming, try taking small steps towards integrating data in your classroom with your next assessment. You will quickly see the immense value that can come from becoming a data-driven classroom with the future successes you will see in your students!
Alexandra D. Owens
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