FCS: Data Practices

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8.1 Collecting Data in FCS Courses

Data can inform various aspects of your teaching. It can help students see their own progress and areas that need improvement. It can provide information that students can use in setting goals and evaluating their progress. It can help you understand what specific students have learned or still need to learn, and how you should adjust your instruction to fit the needs of the learners. 

Technology has greatly expanded the way data can be recorded, collected, organized, and used in a timely and efficient way. Remember, the purpose of collecting data is to provide timely and appropriate intervention and extension for essential learning skills and standards. Because of technology, you can quickly and easily collect and use data to inform your instruction, group students, plan intervention and extension activities for students who need it, and target specific needs of the whole class, small groups, and individual students. 

In order for data to be useful, you have to design ways to collect it with a desired outcome in mind. What do you want the data to tell you? There are many types of data and ways to collect it that can enhance learning in your FCS classroom. You may want to use formative assessments, observations, performance criteria, and rubrics aligned with essential learning standards. 

In the following video, Megan Wakefield discusses how she uses a variety of online platforms to collect formative and summative assessment data. 

Reflection Question: What tools do you have available in your LMS and externally that you can use to collect data on your own students' mastery of the learning objectives?

Revealing Learning Gaps–Megan Wakefield (3:19) 

Here are a few examples:

Table 1

Collecting Data—Some Ideas 

Desired DataWays to Gather the Data Using Technology
Student Demographic Data

This data will be found in your Student Information System. This could be a program such as Skyward, PowerSchool, or a data dashboard program. These tools can be used to learn about the demographics of your students: ethnicity, race, individualized educational plan, low income, primary language, language spoken at home, etc. Knowing student demographics can help you have cultural awareness in your classroom. 

  • Training/resources needed to obtain/access data: Training on your school/district’s student information system or data dashboard.

Student Characteristics

This data comes from teacher-made resources that help you get to know your students. You might use an online form or survey to have students answer questions about their learning preferences (alone, in groups, reading, watching, writing), their best time of day for studying, hobbies, pastimes, their perceptions of their strengths and weakness in the subject area, what they want from the class, what they are nervous about in the class, types of assessments and activities they prefer, etc.  Notice and take notes on students’ participation, interest in reading materials, friends, attention, outside interests, interaction with others, clues about home life, etc. 

  • Training/resources needed to obtain/access data: How to create an online survey platform such as Google Forms and find the results. You will need a system for compiling observations, perhaps a spreadsheet.

Mastery/Proficiency Data

This data may be in your Learning Management System (LMS) or an outside mastery tracker that you set up. It may include data from activities, labs, and assessments. This data can include student proficiency of learning standards and performance skills. This data can be useful in making decisions about instructional methods, curriculum, and learning interventions needed. 

  • Training/resources needed to obtain/access data: Training in using a grade book system or other grade tracker.

Performance Skill Mastery Data

This kind of data is important in hands-on, project-based learning. This data can be collected using observation, video recordings, pictures, posters, rubrics, a lab sheet, or a performance checklist. Technology can be useful in demonstrating or passing off performance skills. 

  • Training/resources needed to obtain/access data: Training in a learning management system, grade book, spreadsheet, or technology with recording ability.

Goals and Progress Toward Goals

This kind of data is also known as progress monitoring. You can keep track of goals and the progress students are making in a spreadsheet or goal sheet you create. This information can help you identify curricular pacing, mastery levels, and 

  • Training/resources needed to obtain/access data: Training in excel or google sheets.

Help-seeking strategies

Observe how your students seek help and record what you see: Do individual students seek help online, from other students, from you? Are they afraid to ask for help? Do they seek help when they might figure it out on their own?

  • Training/resources needed to obtain/access data: A system for compiling observations.

In your blended teaching workbook, you have a blank table like the one above. Decide what sources of data you would like to use in your classroom. Fill out the chart based on what data you want to collect. You may have to ask others for ideas on types of technology and what you need to learn to use the technology.

 8.2 Utilizing Data in FCS Courses

Tracking data can help you improve both student learning and your own teaching. One of the biggest advantages of blended teaching is being able to collect data in real time to inform instruction. Because data can help you know your students' skill and proficiency levels on learning objectives, it can help you in creating curriculum, differentiating and personalizing activities and assessments, helping students set goals, tracking progress, and adjusting instruction based on the data you have collected. It can also help you see areas for growth in your instruction, allowing you to improve your teaching practice. 

As you watch the example from Natalie Wilson below, notice how she uses data to inform both herself and the students. 

Reflection Question: What are ways you could improve your class’s learning by collecting and analyzing data?

Preventing Mistakes–Natlie Wilson (2:10) 

Using Data to Assess Learning & Inform Instruction

Because data in a FCS class often comes from student performance and student activity, if you pay careful attention to student data, you can learn a lot about how your students learn and best teaching strategies to use. What activities led to the best results for what kinds of learning outcomes? What confused your students? What are they most engaged in? Does their engagement also lead to understanding and mastering learning goals? Reflecting on questions like these can help you evaluate yourself as a teacher and your students as learners. They can lead to insights that can strengthen your teaching practices and help students achieve mastery on their goals. 

In the following video, Heather Ostler uses online quizzing to reinforce learning concepts.

Reflection Question: How can you use online assessments to measure progress toward learning objectives?

Building Sticky Learning–Heather Ostler (2:04) 


Quizzes are a common source of data. How can you use quiz data to improve your teaching and increase student learning? Here are some steps to take in analyzing and responding to data:

  1. Review the quiz data: After giving the quiz, take time to review the results of the assessment. Look at each questions’ results for patterns or trends in student achievement. Look to see what areas students reach proficiency in and where they need additional instruction or practice.

  2. Identify additional learning needs: Use the quiz data to identify which learning objectives students have not yet mastered. Identify whether additional time and practice is needed for individual students, small groups, or whole class. Identify specific learning objectives that students did not reach mastery yet. 

  3. Adjust instruction: Once you have identified learning needs from looking at the data, adjust your instruction. This could involve re-teaching concepts that students struggled with, providing additional practice time or resources, or offering extension activities for students who have demonstrated mastery of the material. 

  4. Provide targeted feedback: Use the quiz data to provide specific and timely feedback to students. This could involve identifying areas where they need to improve or providing praise and recognition for areas where they demonstrated mastery.

  5. Monitor progress: Use subsequent activities, quizzes, or assessments to monitor student progress and evaluate the effectiveness of your instruction. Continue to adjust your instruction as needed based on continual data analysis.

Teachers use data in all sorts of ways. In the example below, Mary Alice shares ways she uses data in her FCS classroom. What ideas do her experiences give you?

Data to Improve Instruction–Mary Alice McCarlie (1:45) 


Think of one source of data that you are not using but that you could use in your classroom. In your workbook, outline a way to collect that data and ways you can use it.

If you haven't already opened and saved your workbook, you can access it here.

Collecting and using data with technology may feel intimidating. You may think you cannot do it or you do not know where to start. But if you think about it, you are already collecting informal data all the time. You are quizzing students, discussing topics, observing their performance, reviewing student work, and assessing content mastery. It is time to take the next step and find more formal ways to collect and analyze data. Data can open your understanding of your students, their learning needs, and your instruction as a teacher. It is not just the collection of data, but what you do with it that makes a difference in student learning.

Previous Citation(s)
, , , , & (2021). K-12 Blended Teaching (Vol 2): A Guide to Practice Within the Disciplines, 2. EdTech Books. https://edtechbooks.org/-QNCX

This content is provided to you freely by EdTech Books.

Access it online or download it at https://edtechbooks.org/k12blended_facs/ela_dataHWtYiF.