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Teaching Educators Habits of Mind for Using Data Wisely


by Candice Bocala & Kathryn Parker Boudett — 2015

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.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 117 Number 4, 2015, p. 1-20
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 17853, Date Accessed: 7/29/2017 7:46:35 AM

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About the Author
  • Candice Bocala
    Harvard Graduate School of Education
    E-mail Author
    CANDICE BOCALA is the co-chair of the Data Wise Summer Institute and a senior team member for the Data Wise Project. Since 2009, she has been working with educators to use the Data Wise Improvement Process. She also conducts research and program evaluation for WestEd, where her research interests include data use, professional development, and school improvement. Previously, she taught elementary school in Washington, DC. Candice holds a BA in government from Cornell University, an MA in policy analysis and evaluation from Stanford University, an MAT in elementary education from American University, and an EdD from the Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Kathryn Boudett
    Harvard Graduate School of Education
    E-mail Author
    KATHRYN PARKER BOUDETT is director of the Data Wise Project, co-chair of the Data Wise Summer Institute, and co-chair of the Data Wise Coach Certification Program. She is a lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). Her publications include: Data Wise: A Step-By-Step Guide to Using Assessment Results to Improve Teaching and Learning, Data Wise in Action: Stories of Schools Using Data to Improve Teaching and Learning, Key Elements of Observing Practice: A Data Wise Facilitator's Guide and DVD and Meeting Wise: Making the Most of Collaborative Time for Educators. Kathy holds a BA in economics from Yale University, an MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School and a PhD in public policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
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