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

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

  1. How did 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 did teachers consider they needed in order to make more effective use of data?
  3. What suggestions did 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 did teachers and school leaders have for further developing data literacy capacities within teacher education programmes?

In the project we explored data literacy as a multi-level construct that was central to teacher, school and school community decision-making and pedagogical action. We theorised that data literacy was 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 was this research important?

This research was 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 resulted in:

  • Better understanding of NZ teachers’ ways, motivation, and confidence which used student data to inform curriculum and pedagogical decisions,
  • An “inventory” of NZ educators’ data literacy competencies and confidence when dealing with students’ data,
  • Research and development collaborations that supported and increased data literacy in COL and initial teacher education.

How did this research help to inform others?

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

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