Zooming out and zooming in on student mathematics data: Developing teacher data literacy to enhance teaching and learning

Principal Investigators: Professor Bronwen Cowie , Dr Frances Edwards in collaboration with Inquiry Strand leader: Nicola Gibson (Pukekohe Kāhui Ako)

Project Dates: January 2019 - December 2020

Partnerships: Funded by the Teaching and Learning Research Initiative

What is the aim of the research?

This project aims to understand how to develop teacher data literacy as a process that involves ‘zooming in’ to use data to inform teacher action with classes and individual students, and ‘zooming out’ to consider student data collated across a Kāhui Ako (Community of Learning).

Why is this research important?

Despite increasing policy and commercial interest in evidence-based practice, international research consistently reports that many educators do not make effective use of the student data they collect (Mandinach et al., 2015; Kippers et al., 2018). Within New Zealand, the Education Review Office (ERO) have expressed the need for teacher data literacy and their concern about current levels of data literacy in New Zealand schools (ERO, 2017).

How will the research be conducted?

While teachers and schools have access to an increasing range of data, the challenge is using these data to support student learning outcomes.  Using a design-based implementation research approach, the research will explore the nature of effective development and support for teachers as data coaches of their colleagues, as a means of developing a culture of proactive data use.  This approach is distinguished by (a) a focus on persistent problems of practice from multiple stakeholders’ perspectives; (b) a commitment to iterative, collaborative design; (c) a concern with developing theory related to both classroom learning and implementation through systematic inquiry; and (d) a concern with developing capacity for sustaining change in a system.

Nicola Gibson, a member of the research team for this project alongside Frances and Bronwen, leads the Pukekohe Kāhui Ako Inquiry strand focused on data literacy for mathematics teaching and learning. The overall 16-school Kāhui Ako leadership group supports this focus and has called for research (beyond the current teacher professional learning inquiries) into how teachers might develop and use data literacy capacities to collate, analyse, and use data about student mathematics across the levels of (i) their school classrooms and individual students, (ii) their own schools, and (iii) a multi-school learning community.

Working with the nine schools in the Inquiry Strand, Nicola is interested in using the mathematics learning progressions and in understanding what pathways best support the development of teachers’ data literacy for action. To understand and respond to this complexity, the research will adopt a systems view of assessment (Stiggins, 2008), which acknowledges the interdependence of, and need for, coherence across the levels of classroom, school, and national policy agendas and practices.