How could data analysis sharpen your teaching skills?

Can data analysis make you a better teacher?

Most teachers care about delivering an education that suits their students' diverse learning preferences and abilities. But often caring is not enough to be able to do this proficiently.

Effectively differentiating the curriculum can be trying to say the least, especially without any assistance or guidance. But for centuries, this has been the primary role of a teacher – as education facilitator, it is their job to help each and every student achieve. However, even with the most seasoned teachers, there are always students who slip through the cracks and don't get exactly what they need from their education.

While this is usually not the teacher's fault, it is an issue that can largely be remedied with modern tools of the trade.

86 per cent of teachers are continually seeking to understand their students better.

Teachers want to improve their education facilitation

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation released a report in 2015 which explored how digital tools are enhancing education in primary and secondary schools. Surveying more than 4,600 teachers, the report, titled "Teachers Know Best", found that 86 per cent of teachers are continually seeking new methods and tools that well help them understand their students better. 

As administrators and teachers look towards digital solutions to aid their education delivery, it is worrying to know that more than two-thirds of the survey's respondents who use digital tools are not entirely satisfied. Whether it is because of the quality of the product, a lack of training or misunderstanding of how it could be useful to them, teachers are drawing a blank when trying to crunch their students' performance numbers.

Data promises big changes but proves problematic for many

From an administrative point of view, data-driven teaching has an incredible number of benefits, particularly in regards to delivering a curriculum that is differentiated to the varied learning levels and preferences found in most classrooms. However, while the impetus is often the desire to motivate and engage students who may be missing out, the question often arises – how can teachers be motivated to utilise such tools?

School administrators need to prove the value of data analysis to teachers.School administrators need to prove the value of data analysis to teachers.

Whenever new techniques are introduced, it is natural for those affected to be apprehensive. People don't want to change, especially when they perceive the new normal to require more effort on their part.

Therefore, it is not that teachers are against new data-driven electronic systems, necessarily – it's that they need to know why they should use them and how to do so. While more than 48 per cent of teachers are using performance data to drive instruction, according to the Teachers Know Best report,  just as many are not comfortable with their ability to effectively do so.

Relying solely on what you think is going on rather than what you know is not a foolproof method.

Teachers have a better handle over the old-school ways

The majority of teachers are more competent making decisions based on their own perceptions than they are with numbers and statistics. However, with the unavoidability of personal biases, relying solely on what you think is going on rather than what you know certainly is not a foolproof method. 

Writing for the Journal of Educational Leadership in early 2009, Jennifer Morrison explained that teachers actually accumulate a lot more data than they realise. Moreover, teachers are utilising this sort of data every day to make decisions – it just isn't formalised.

In her opinion, either performance data or intuition alone will not be enough. They need to be combined through reflection to really enable teachers to make the most out of the information they have available. While this can be difficult without assistance, there are a few digital tools that can help you make those connections.

Best Performance's CNAP product doesn't just help you document data. It makes tracking, monitoring, analysing and using it effectively incredibly intuitive and simple. Individualising your teaching has never been easier with Best Performance. Get in touch today for more information.

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