Click the Read More link for a transcript with references.
Data collection is important in the classroom and with our adult learners. My position primarily works with teachers, teacher leaders, support staff, and administrators. Even though these learners are not children, they are still learners that I serve. In order to serve them, I need to understand where they are, what they know, what they need to know, what they need to be able to do, and what their needs are. To answer those questions, I need data. Without data, decisions are just opinions. Amy Burroughs in her article why K-12 Schools Should Establish a Data-Drive Culture shares that same opinion. SEDL, the Southwest Educational Developmental Laboratory, says “A picture may be worth a thousand words, but in education, information speaks volumes. Data analysis can provide a snapshot of what students know, what they should know, and what can be done to meet their academic needs. With appropriate analysis and interpretation of data, educators can make informed decisions that positively affect student outcomes” (Lewis et al., 2010). This speaks specifically about our classroom students, but applies to our adult learners, too.
Often, when we think about data, we think about numbers or quantitative data, but data can also be qualitative. Qualitative data, I feel, really provides the respondent with the opportunity to personalize responses and give the respondent voice. When working with adult learners, it is so very important to honor their thoughts, feelings and experiences. Without that, you run the risk of losing trust with them. Have you ever sat through a professional learning experience that was required but you felt was a waste of time? Malcolm Knowles, in his theory on adult learning, says, in part, that adults need to see value in what they’re learning, that the content needs to matter, that their motivation is internal, and that they need to be able to see the practical application of what they are learning (1996). Data informs the learning designer what their learners need, whether they are one that works with adults or the classroom teacher.
Roblyer and Hughes share a number of great tools that can be used for data collection and analysis (2019). They provide nice explanations of how these tools might be used by teachers and even students. The challenge that is often faced when using tools for data collection is the proficiency level of the user with these tools. Not all of us are spreadsheet ninjas, but spreadsheets are powerful tools to manipulate and analyze data so that it can be applied. I feel that is an area where adults could use additional support so that the data can be effectively applied to support instruction. There are additional tools that could be incorporated to add learner voice to that data collection. For example, Padlet is a great tool for learner feedback. Questions can be organized and responses can be downloaded in a spreadsheet form. It is possible to provide learners, student and adult, the opportunity to share qualitative feedback, too. Word clouds, like those created by Mentimeter or Answer Garden, can also provide that qualitative feedback. They take the text answers of the respondents and create a cloud-like image with those text answers, the text answers most shared are the largest text in the cloud creating a powerful visual.
Burroughs, A. (2020, April 30). Why K-12 schools should establish a data-driven culture. EdTech: Focus on K-12. https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2020/04/why-k-12-schools-should-establish-data-driven-culture-perfcon
Knowles, M. (1996). Andragogy: An emerging technology for adult learning. Boundaries of adult learning, 82–98. http://ecomentor.itee.radom.pl/file_course/adult_learning_knowles.pdf
Lewis, D., Madison-Harris, R., Muoneke, A., & Times, C. (2010). Using data to guide instruction and improve student learning. American Institutes for Research. https://sedl.org/pubs/sedl-letter/v22n02/using-data.html#:~:text=Data%20analysis%20can%20provide%20a,that%20positively%20affect%20student%20outcomes.
Roblyer, M. D., & Hughes, J. E. (2019). Integrating educational technology into teaching: Transforming learning across disciplines (8th ed.). Pearson Education, Inc.
I am a Technology Integration and LMS Specialist by title, but lifelong learner in practice. An Apple Teacher, Google Certified Educator and Microsoft Innovative Educator, my goal is to assist educators in investigating and exploring resources to embed in their instruction. I also hope to be a part of their journey toward an innovative and transformative practice that empowers learners and strengthens their own craftsmanship. I spends my free time with my family, my dogs and a good cup of coffee.