Five Best Practices to Help Students Analyze Their Own Data

Thursday, December 10, 2015 -- Scott Sterling

As data becomes more ubiquitous in education, it should be shared with the most important stakeholder—students! The challenge is that data is usually prepared in a form meant for adults. Here are several things to keep in mind as you seek to involve students more in tracking their educational progress.

Make data study a regular habit

Data study should be an ongoing facet of learning, especially considering that so much data is now being generated on a daily basis. Having students sit down once or twice a year to study their progress is not effective because they really can’t take meaningful corrective action that sporadically. Instead, make data study a monthly or even weekly habit so students can learn to make effective adjustments.

Look for student-friendly data

Students often struggle to comprehend facets of data like scale scores and percentiles. However, they can easily understand strengths and weaknesses. In your data study, focus on showing them things that function as progress indicators. Ask students to recall certain lessons in which they demonstrated mastery and others in which they fell short. And, although this is common sense, never discuss data that compares the students with each other. Learning is not a competition.

Goals and scales make data study easier

It is much easier for students to comprehend their progress if they know what they need to accomplish and how they will be assessed. So when introducing lessons, unpack the standards in kid-friendly language that makes the learning goals and expectations clear. This helps students understand when they’ve reached mastery and can make data study at a later date much more effective.

Show students how to find their own data

Students can become more invested in data study when they don’t have to wait for it to be presented to them. Set aside some time at the beginning of the year to show students places in which they can find their own data. That might be an online gradebook, or it could be as simple as keeping a portfolio of work and having them plot their grades on a graph. Giving students this kind of access encourages them to take ownership of their progress.

Provide actionable steps for moving forward

Data study is useless if it isn’t used to improve learning processes moving forward. So, in any data study session, make sure you provide the student with not only the data itself, but also ways they can use that data to progress through the curriculum.

Interested in learning more about how Edmentum’s online solutions can help you and your students gain meaningful insights from classroom data? Take a tour of Edmentum Sensei, our interactive data dashboard!