Factors Influencing the Functioning of Data Teams
by Kim Schildkamp & Cindy Poortman — 2015
Background: Data-based decision making can lead to increased student achievement; however, schools struggle with the implementation of data-based decision making. Professional development in the use of data is therefore urgently needed. However, professional development is often ineffective in terms of improving the knowledge, skills, and attitude of the receiver.
Purpose: We need a more fundamental understanding of how we can increase the effectiveness of data-use-related professional development. This study therefore focuses on the factors influencing a professional development intervention for data-based decision making: the data team procedure. Data teams are teams of teachers and school leaders who collaboratively learn how to use data, following a structured approach and guided by a facilitator from the university. Based on an extensive literature review, we developed a data use framework in which the use of data is influenced by data characteristics, school organization characteristics, and user and team characteristics.
Research Design: We conducted case studies.
Data Collection: We focused on observing in depth the factors that influence the work of the data teams and interviewing the data team members about these factors. Four data teams of six schools for upper secondary education were followed over a period of 2 years. We observed and analyzed 34 meetings and analyzed 23 interviews, combined with our field notes. Although this pilot study only permits analytical generalization of the findings, the findings provide more in-depth insight into the factors that enable and hinder interventions, focusing on supporting collaborative data use in schools.
Findings: The results show that several data characteristics (access and availability of high-quality data), school organizational characteristics (a shared goal, leadership, training and support, involvement of relevant stakeholders), and individual and team characteristics (data literacy, pedagogical content knowledge [PCK], organizational knowledge, attitude, and collaboration) influence the use of data in data teams. The results also show that these influencing factors are interrelated.
Conclusions: Schools need support in all aspects of the use of data (from formulation of a problem definition to taking action based on the data). This study can form a starting point for larger studies into the factors influencing these types of professional development interventions to ensure effective implementation and sustainability.
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