Why data can help you meet individual students’ needsTraditionally, teachers have studied the way students learn and understand through methods such as observation and assessment tasks. Until the recent digital revolution in classrooms, teachers had to rely on compiling results from tests while keeping track of classroom behaviour for all students at once, efforts that could prove tasking for already time-poor teachers. However, with the ability to harness data from digital footprints left by students, that’s all about to change.

In July last year, the Grattan Institute published a report on the importance that schools and education systems target teaching to the individual needs of every child. While the traditional methods mentioned above attempt targeted teaching as best as possible, the report advocates supplementing them with analytics so that teachers are far better equipped to hone in on the needs of their individual students.

The report sees data collection as a necessity as it allows teachers to focus on what each student knows right now, without risking leaving one of their peers behind. The result is that teachers can target their teaching to focus on what each student is ready to learn next, while tracking each student’s progress over time. Importantly, no student is missed in this process.

“The goal is to build better pedagogies, empower students to take an active part in their learning, target at-risk student populations, and assess factors affecting completion and student success.”

2014 NMC Horizon report K-12

To be effective, robust data from a range of sources is required. It is therefore recommended that schools develop a plan to collect robust evidence of student learning. This vision should cover which digital platforms will be used to collect data, as well as how educators can best use this data to target teaching and track student progress over time.

To start, Chris Gray, Jacaranda’s General Manager of Global Education, suggests that schools look across the three broad categories when searching for data:

  • Behaviour: What are learners doing? Where? Are they engaged?
  • Understanding: What do they understand? Where are the gaps?
  • Cognition: How do they learn? What are the most effective ways to learn?

If you’re interested in learning more about how to implement learning analytics in your classroom, stay tuned! We’ll be exploring the topic more in depth in the coming weeks.