Background: Institutions of higher education, specifically schools of education, should play a pivotal role in supporting educators’ development of data literacy for teaching. While novice teachers are often prepared to use test-based assessment data, they learn these experiences in isolated courses that do not connect to instruction or school improvement. Moreover, once these novice teachers begin working in schools, they are increasingly expected to work with colleagues to apply data literacy skills, yet few preparation programs provide sustained support with using data collaboratively for whole-school improvement.
Purpose: This essay describes the habits of mind, or ways of thinking and being, that underlie data literacy courses offered by the Data Wise Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The habits include: shared commitment to action, assessment, and adjustment; intentional collaboration; and relentless focus on evidence. Adding an emphasis on habits of mind expands building data literacy beyond accumulating discrete knowledge and skills or learning a process that becomes routine.
Research Design: The authors provide suggestions for instructional design than can be incorporated both in degree-program courses and in ongoing professional development. These suggestions provide opportunities for participants to actively cultivate the three habits of mind.
Conclusions: In order to support all educators while learning data literacy for teaching, there is a need to bridge the resources of an institution of higher education with the instructional capacity of professional development providers and the authentic experiences of school-based practitioners.