Thursday, September 11, 2014

Teaching as Inquiry and Data Collection

After reading chapters 1 and 2 from  Data-based decision making in education: Challenges and opportunities. (Schildkamp,Lai & Earl, L. 2012) I have been thinking how I could tie their definition and categories of data into Timperley's Inquiry Spiral. I have attempted to show my thoughts below.

Input data
–  Data on student characteristic such as data on truancy, intake, transfer and school leavers, home language, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.
–  Data on teacher characteristics, such as data on teacher qualifications and length of teaching.
Outcome data
–  Data on student achievement such as assessment results, written and oral exams, portfolios, and report cards.
–  Data on student well-being such as well-being surveys.
Process data
– Data on instruction and types of assessment such as observations and documents on instruction and learning strategies, instruction time, organization of instruction, classroom management, and organization of assessment.
Context data
–  Data on school culture such as survey or focus group results on the opinions of students and teachers on the school’s atmosphere, climate, and discipline.
–  Data on the curriculum such as subject descriptions, rosters, year guides, and special programs.
–  Data on building and materials such as data on how many times certain rooms and equipment are used and the availability of computers.

I often struggle with what data to use as evidence and usually go back to outcome data as it
is embedded into classroom practice and often the easiest to use. For me changing my mindset around data use is helped by thinking about breaking the data into the different contexts and then having some examples to reflect on.

I like the two following examples from Schildkamp,Lai & Earl, L. 2012 as it gives ways of using multiple data to inform the decision making process.

For example, a teacher who wants to make effective instructional changes to her reading program to better cater for the boys in her class could use the following data:
  • Data on student characteristics such as absenteeism rates for boys (input data).
  • Analysis of student performance on reading tests (outcome data).
  • Discussions with the boys about their strengths and weaknesses in reading and
    their love of reading (process data).
    • Examination of the school curriculum such as whether the reading texts are

    engaging for boys (context data).

A Principal who wants to find out whether parents understand the new school report cards could use the following data:

  • Data on parent characteristics such as home language (input data).
  • Analysis of parent understanding of the reports through discussions and surveys
    with parents (outcome data).
  • Examination of the report cards to see if there are features of the report that aid or
    hinder parent understanding, for example, whether the comments written in the report card use educational jargon that would be difficult for parents to understand (context data). 
A great example I found is a rural district in the USA looked at why a subset of students where struggling academically. Teachers and administrators looked for explanations in student performance data, medical records, behavioral data, attendance, and other less quantitative information. No meaningful correlations emerged. Administrators began to examine what might seem to be unrelated data, including transportation data, where they finally found a direct connection. The students who were having the most difficulty were those who had the longest bus commute. 
The outcome from the data analysis was a change in bus timetables to shorten the non productive time on buses. Another district with similar issues could not shorten the time spent on buses so they installed wireless on the buses so students could work while on the bus.  (Ellen, B., Mandinach, (2012). A Perfect Time for Data Use: Using Data-Driven Decision Making to Inform Practice. Educational Psychologist, 47,(2), 71-85.)

We collect a range of data within the school and for me focussing in the on the contexts of data I could possibly use at each stage of the inquiry helps me to make better decisions for the students and focus my own learning.