Teachers with Expertise in Data Use: How Do They Engage in Data Driven Decision Making from Student Performance Data to Influence Instruction?

Project Details


Teachers are expected to engage in data use to make instructional decisions that improve teaching and student learning (Data Quality Campaign, 2009; US DOE, 2009). Despite the demand to develop teachers' data literacy and data use for instruction, there is little empirical evidence on how teachers understand and use data in authentic contexts that can be referenced to guide these policies and interventions (Mandinach, Honey, Light, & Brunner, 2008).In this investigation we draw from the theoretical and empirical bases of data-driven decision making (DDDM, Mandinach et al., 2008; Marsh, 2012) and teacher expertise (e.g., Alexander et al., 2004) to uncover the craft knowledge of and contextual influences on teachers with expertise in data use. Craft knowledge is the experience-based 'how to' knowledge developed and enacted by practitioners (Grimmett & MacKinnon, 1992). Extensive theoretical and empirical work has specified DDDM at the school or district level but little is known about how teachers engage in this practice within their classrooms. We seek to understand if the DDDM, designed for school and district level decision making, can be used to understand how teachers engage with data in their classrooms. Specifically, we want to uncover how and under what conditions fifth grade English Language Arts and Social Studies teachers with expertise in data use engage in a data based decision making process. We hope to uncover teachers' craft knowledge of data use to explore the subprocesses and microprocesses they evoke to convert classroom student performance data into actionable knowledge for distal (long-term) and proximal (short-term) instructional decisions. We focus on teachers' use of recorded student performance data from formative assessments gathered at the classroom level that are deliberate and designed to discern and improve students' learning. We rely on multiple rigorous qualitative methodologies (i.e., think-aloud protocols, interviews, observations, and document analysis) and a sophisticated analytic plan to answer the following research questions1. How, and under what conditions, do fifth grade English Language Arts and Social Studies teachers with data use expertise use documented student performance data to inform distal and proximal instructional decisions?2. How, and under what conditions, do fifth grade English Language Arts and Social Studies teachers with data use expertise design instruction that is responsive to their instructional decisions derived from data use?Building on existing conceptual models of data-based decision making and utilizing rigorous qualitative methodology, this investigation complements and extends the extant literature by examining how expert teachers in specific contexts engage in data use for their daily practice. Relevant to researchers and practitioners, our findings will inform existing theory of data-based decision making at the classroom level and will identify a repertoire of specific transferable strategies for data use that can be empirically confirmed in future research and used to guide policy and interventions.,

Effective start/end date1/01/13 → …


  • Spencer Foundation: $155,008.00


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