Home Articles Reader Opinion Editorial Book Reviews Discussion Writers Guide About TCRecord
transparent 13

The Development of Capacity for Data Use: The Role of Teacher Networks in an Elementary School

by Elizabeth Farley-Ripple & Joan Buttram - 2015

Background: Amid calls for increased data use, there is little research or policy guidance for how to build schools’ capacity to leverage data to improve teaching and learning. Building on previous research highlighting the social nature of data use, we contend that in order to understand how capacity develops, research must focus on relationships and networks that support educators’ practice, conceptualizing capacity as socially embedded.

Purpose: This article explores the development of data use capacity in an elementary school through a social network approach. Our analysis focuses on the structure of data advice networks, the characteristics of perceived experts in the network, and the productiveness of the network in terms of influencing beliefs and practice.

Population: Data come from a sample of 42 educators from an elementary school exemplified by its district as a strong user of data to improve teaching and learning. Participants completed a survey about their data use beliefs, practices, and school context, as well as a social network questionnaire indicating from whom they sought advice on using data.

Research Design: We used the survey data to identify characteristics of the schools’ data use networks using descriptive statistics and social network analysis (SNA). SNA was also used to develop measures of structural location in those networks, which were then used to predict similarities in teachers’ beliefs and practices around data use.

Findings: Findings reveal that data use networks are influenced by the larger professional structure of the school, with data advice being from colleagues who are part of their larger professional network. Network structure reveals few highly central “advice givers” and many “advice seekers” connected by teachers and leaders who serve as brokers of advice. We find that brokers may play an important role in developing shared practices, given that the indirect relationships they support are predictive of shared data use practices.

Conclusions: This research is among the first to explore data use through a social network approach and offers early evidence about how educators’ networks enable schools to build capacity for data use. Our findings have implications for the design of professional development, for professional development for school leaders, and for successful implementation of reforms related to data use.

To view the full-text for this article you must be signed-in with the appropriate membership. Please review your options below:

Store a cookie on my computer that will allow me to skip this sign-in in the future.
Send me my password -- I can't remember it
Purchase this Article
Purchase The Development of Capacity for Data Use: The Role of Teacher Networks in an Elementary School
Individual-Resource passes allow you to purchase access to resources one resource at a time. There are no recurring fees.
Become a Member
Online Access
With this membership you receive online access to all of TCRecord's content. The introductory rate of $25 is available for a limited time.
Print and Online Access
With this membership you receive the print journal and free online access to all of TCRecord's content.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 117 Number 4, 2015, p. 1-34
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 17852, Date Accessed: 9/25/2021 5:14:26 PM

Purchase Reprint Rights for this article or review
Article Tools
Related Articles

Related Discussion
Post a Comment | Read All

About the Author
  • Elizabeth Farley-Ripple
    University of Delaware
    E-mail Author
    ELIZABETH FARLEY-RIPPLE is an assistant professor at the University of Delaware. Her research focuses on issues of leadership, organizational improvement, and capacity building at the school and district levels. She is an experienced mixed methodologist, with expertise using large administrative data sets, multilevel models, survey research, and social network analysis as well as engaging in large-scale qualitative data collection and analysis. Dr. Farley-Ripple has published research in respected journals such as Educational Researcher, Educational Policy, the American Journal of Education, Educational Management, Administration, and Leadership, and Urban Education.
  • Joan Buttram
    University of Delaware
    E-mail Author
    JOAN BUTTRAM is the director of the Delaware Education Research and Development Center at the University of Delaware. Dr. Buttram’s research focuses on educational leadership, professional development, and school improvement. She is currently conducting research and/or evaluation studies related to high school reform, professional learning communities, multiple professional development and training programs in both K–12 and higher education, and health services for individuals with disabilities. Prior to coming to UD, she directed the Southwest Regional Educational Laboratory in Austin, Texas, for nine years.
Member Center
In Print
This Month's Issue