Using Data to Inform Instruction

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  • 0:04 Using Data to Drive…
  • 0:39 What Is Data?
  • 1:49 Instruction Components
  • 3:33 Methods of Re-Teaching
  • 5:32 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Marquis Grant

Marquis has a Doctor of Education degree.

Expert Contributor
Lesley Chapel

Lesley has taught American and World History at the university level for the past seven years. She has a Master's degree in History.

This lesson highlights how data is used to improve student achievement through instruction, assessment, analysis, and re-teaching. A short quiz will follow to test your knowledge.

Using Data to Drive Instruction

The term data-driven instruction has not always been part of teaching and learning. Educators created lessons and assessments based on state standards (educational guidelines), but there was little thought given to how student data should play a role in curriculum design and classroom instruction. In fact, most planning adopted a one-size-fits-all approach, with the attitude that students would either get it or they wouldn't. High failure rates and poor test results brought in the new idea of data-driven instruction, using student data as a means of planning and delivering instruction.

What Is Data?

Data, in this case, is information obtained about students collectively and individually. You can obtain data two different ways: formally and informally.

  • Formal data comes in many different forms. You can get information through standardized tests, teacher-made tests, projects, course-based examinations, or psycho-educational assessments. Formal data can be used to determine how well students did individually, how well students did compared to their peers at the same grade level, or how well students did as a whole group.
  • Informal data is information that's relevant when measuring student progress and understanding of instruction, but it's done without the use of standardized assessments. Methods for obtaining informal data could include group discussions, student-teacher conferences, or journal writing about a teacher-selected topic.

As the teacher, you may have a better idea of your students' skill levels if you use information from both formal and informal sources. This can give you a clear understanding of students' strengths and weaknesses so that you can plan instruction based on student needs, not just your curriculum pacing guide.

Data Driven Instruction: Components

There are at least four main components that should be part of using data to drive instruction. Those components are instruction, assessment, analysis, and re-teaching.

1.) The instructional piece is what you will teach to the students based on the standards for the subject, learning objectives, learning goals, and learning outcomes. You might decide that your students will read the play Macbeth and analyze its themes, motifs, and symbols.

2.) Assessment is how you will determine whether students met the learning goals. You might have a formal test or simply have a group discussion. Let's say you have a discussion. You can keep track of topics discussed by writing notes on the chalkboard or in a personal notebook.

3.) After your assessment, you analyze the information to see how well your students did. This analysis of information will help you decide if you need to re-teach a portion of the lesson to the whole class, if you need to focus your attention on a smaller group that needs a part of the lesson re-taught, or if you can move on to the next activity. You might notice that your students provided a lot of comments during the class discussion about how ambition leads to destruction and instances of violence in the play, but they might not have noticed all of the supernatural elements, like prophecies and hallucinatory visions.

4.) You may need to re-teach parts of your lesson, designing a lesson that takes into account what your students missed. You might decide it's best to teach a mini lesson where you discuss the witches' prophecies and then ask students to describe how these prophecies came true. And you could point out to them certain visions, like when Macbeth sees a dagger floating in the air or Lady Macbeth sees her hands covered in blood that can't be cleaned, and ask them what they think these visions mean.

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Additional Activities

Prompts About Using Data to Inform Instruction:

Essay Prompt 1:

Write an essay of approximately three to four paragraphs that explains data-driven instruction and that describes formal and informal data collection.

Example: Be sure to note that data, in this case, refers to the information you gather about your students collectively and individually.

Essay Prompt 2:

Discuss in an essay of about three to four paragraphs the role of instruction as a data-driven component.

Example: You could explain that the instructional component lays out learning objectives.

Essay Prompt 3:

In approximately one to two pages, write an essay that explains the role of re-teaching in data-driven instruction. Provide at least one specific example.

Example: You notice in class discussions when teaching about the American Revolution that students are still asking a lot of questions and expressing confusion about the notion of "no taxation without representation." This causes you to develop new activities, such as mini lessons, to more clearly illustrate this concept for your students.

Graphic Organizer Prompt:

Create a poster or other type of graphic organizer that shows the four main components of data-driven instruction (the instructional component, the assessment component, the analyze component, and the re-teaching component). Provide a brief example of each.

Example: For the assessment component, you could note a test.

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