Data seems to be gaining importance in past few years in every field and sector. The jobs related to data analysis have suddenly seen an upsurge and the application of the analysis of this has gained a marginal value in everyday working of companies and enterprises.
But does data has a role to play in education too? Can the teaching practices improve using data? Does the data help us in breaking some beliefs that we have about learning and children? Can data help us cater or know the need of each student that is otherwise so difficult to find out? The answer is yes.
As per UNDP 2014 report, the education sector needs to start emphasising on the data to ensure the time and effort we are putting in is going in right direction. The need of the hour is to do qualitative work but in right direction and this is what data can help us in.
In a school setting, identifying the learning gaps using formative and summative assessments has been part of the process since years. The report, at the end of every 3 months, tells us the subjects we are weak in and the subjects we are good with. However, the objective of the report is usually not fulfilled as the conversations around ‘why’ the scores are low, ends either in silence or in dismay. The skill of objective analysis of the report and papers don’t seem to be a culture in general; moreover the ownership of doing that analysis is dwindling too. Then what purpose does the report serve overall except for an alert? Let’s take the following example:
As per data around 25% students selecting option is probably looking only at the 3 parts but not the fact that they should be equal. Around 40% choosing option B might be thinking that the numerator is 1 thus 1 block is shaded and the 3 in denominator is represented by the 3 non-shaded parts. 10% students choosing option C again lack the understanding that parts of the fraction should be equal. Around 25% students selected the correct Option D.
Options wise data gives a clear indicator that majority of the students think that 1/3 is not 1 part out of 3 but 1 out of 4. Followed by option A, which shows students have gaps in understanding the ‘equality of parts’ in fraction.
The usage of data with such purpose can bring a lot of light on students and teachers on the areas which need to be worked on by students. Then the conversations around ‘which subjects one is good in’ to ‘which subject one hasn’t performed well in’ will shift to ‘what better can one do to improve the well performed subject’ and ‘which are the errors and misconceptions hindering the students’ learning ?
The above stated example is one of the ways in which data can be used to improve student learning. There are many such ways which together can contribute to transform the system as per today’s needs.
By Ritika Arora – Educational Specialist