Beyond pretty charts: From student data to pedagogical action

Project Leaders: Dr Mira Peter & Professor Bronwen Cowie Research Team: Frances Edwards, Gayle Eyers

Project Dates: January 2017 - December 2017

Project Background

Teachers are expected to use evidence about students’ progress to inform their teaching and account for this progress to others. International evidence indicates that educators often struggle to use data to inform their practice and that support is needed to build teachers’ capacity to use data. The research on situation in New Zealand is limited and this project aims to address this gap.

Through a national survey and interviews with teachers and principals our project explores:

  1. How do teachers and principals as individuals, and as a department, school, and COLs generate and use recorded student data to guide curriculum and pedagogy?
  2. What knowledge, capacities and school support systems do teachers consider they need in order to make more effective use of data?
  3. What suggestions do teachers and school leaders have for ways to enhance their data literacy for action when presented with data from the classroom, school and national assessments?
  4. What suggestions do teachers and school leaders have for further developing data literacy capacities within teacher education programmes?

In the project we explore data literacy as a multi-level construct that is central to teacher, school and school community decision-making and pedagogical action. We theorise that data literacy is both an individual (a capacity that individuals need to acquire and exercise) and a collective (a set of constantly evolving and interconnected practices grounded in the local context and achieved through participation) competence.

Why is this research important?

This research is partly a response to the Ministry of Education’s focus on increased use of data to undergird educational decisions and the call for academics and expert practitioners to work alongside COLs to support teachers’ and school leaders’ data literacy.

The project will result in:

  • Better understanding of NZ teachers’ ways, motivation, and confidence to use student data to inform curriculum and pedagogical
  • An “inventory” of NZ educators’ data literacy competencies and confidence when dealing with students’ data
  • Research and development collaborations to support and increase data literacy in COL and initial teacher education

How will this research help to inform others?

The outcomes of the research will inform the development of professional learning programmes to suit  COLs and individual educator's needs. The results will also inform re-envisioning of the teacher education curriculum to include explicit data literacy development in future teachers.

This project is funded by the University of Waikato Strategic Investment Fund (SIF).