As educators, we all know the importance of data in decision-making. We understand how limited, skewed, or biased data–or no data at all–can result in faulty decision-making and regressive actions, be it in our teaching and learning, curricular design, assessments, or administrative responsibilities.
We know that robust data and effective dissemination of the same are needed for nuanced and meaningful use. Additionally, data-informed decision-making must be inclusive in its approach by engaging all potential stakeholders so that it can lead to transformative action and change. Afterall, data in the right hands at the right time has the power to change destinies.
Students also need robust data to make informed decisions that can have a positive impact on their educational journey and their long-term success. We train our students to engage in research, build evidence-based arguments, and practice scientific thinking, but as educators, we often limit it to the discipline-specific content we cover. We absolve ourselves of the responsibility to teach students how to learn–using data–especially as they age.
In higher education, we often leave it to academic support services and student affairs to handle this responsibility. These offices and personnel consistently and carefully help students learn important habits for success, such as time-management, effective organization and planning, task-oriented focus, iteration, problem-solving, and practice approaches to learning.
However, there is more that faculty and teachers can do to help students learn. There is a lot of data — assessment data— that must be shared with students to help drive their educational success. For minority students and those from marginalized communities who have been systemically and historically resource-starved and under-served by our education system, this data is even more exigent. Having access to this data helps level the playing field and narrow achievement gaps.
I share with you a three-question checklist to review to aid your educational practice so that you can identify your strengths and explore opportunities for growth. The foundational question undergirding this review process must be, “Am I doing everything in my power to help students learn better and be successful in their assessments?”
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