Investigating the data-literacy skills of in-service teachers

Year: 2018

Author: Buckley-Walker, Kellie

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Teachers’ abilities to collect, analyse and interpret data (i.e., data literacy skills) has become a focus in Australia with the introduction of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST; Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, 2012) and the Great Teaching, Inspired Learning - A Blueprint for Action report (GTIL; New South Wales Government, 2013). However, just like international studies have shown (e.g., Farrell & Marsh, 2016; Hoogland et al., 2016), the expertise of in-service teachers in relation to data literacy varies greatly in Australian schools (Goss, Hunter, Romanes, & Parsonage, 2015).
What needs to be explored is classroom based assessments, which comprise of a variety of different types of data (e.g., observations, quick quizzes, questioning students, written work, performance pieces). Classroom data is important, as it is this data that is used to provide feedback to students, inform teachers of the next steps in their teaching (i.e., instructional practice) and ultimately provides the bases on which reports are written and decisions on students’ needs are based. Despite the importance of classroom data very little has been investigated into the current practices of classroom teachers around data literacy specifically related to classroom data.
To capture the range of data literacy practices that are used in schools the teachers in the study will be from both primary and secondary schools, from a range of discipline areas and varying years of experience. The data was analysed using a ‘hybrid approach of inductive and deductive thematic analysis’ (Fereday & Muir-Cochrane, 2006). Firstly, the investigation of current teacher practices in relation to data literacy in a NSW context is new; therefore, it is important to understand these practices from the teachers’ perspective (i.e., an inductive approach). Secondly, a conceptual framework has been developed (Gummer & Mandinach, 2015) which provides the key knowledge and skills that are required by teachers in regards to data literacy; therefore, this framework can be used to create codes in which the interviews can be analysed (i.e., a deductive approach). The results of this study identified a range of strategies and techniques that teachers use to collect, analyse and interpret data in relation to classroom data. These results will be used to inform the development of a questionnaire to be used with a larger pool of teachers across a variety of regions (state and national), to provide a more accurate picture of teachers’ current classroom practices related to data literacy.