Data Strategies that Drive Motivation

Sharing data after mastery checks or summative assessments helps your learners plot their growth and increases investment.

By Stef Durr

data analysis

Data sharing and discussion leads to a deep reflection of one’s teaching, increases student investment, and allows for a natural opportunity to celebrate accomplishments and set goals. However, how do you get your kids to care about data?  

It seems that many schools have adopted a data piece. They want their teachers to be quizzing learners, collecting data, and using that data to drive the next-day’s instruction. This process, they hope, will be cyclical and continue throughout the year.

How Can I Bring Data into the Classroom?

Teachers have many options. You could collect and analyze the data yourself, or encourage the class to grapple with data inside of the classroom walls. Whatever you choose, make sure data reflection becomes a regular activity in your classroom. The more you encourage discussion and reflection on class and personal data, the more effective the conversation becomes. Kids need the opportunity to practice this type of analysis in order to see a change in motivation. Below are four strategies for using data with your kids:

1. Use Data to Help Kids Set Individual Goals

Do you give weekly or bi-weekly quizzes? Give students a tracker to help them collect their data and observe their own progress. After pulling their personal data, have them create a goal for their upcoming quiz. I encourage my kids to choose very specific goals. For example, “I will earn an 80% on my upcoming skills quiz” is not a goal that I’ll approve. Instead, encourage your class to create more purposeful goals that align with specific standards they’re struggling with. However, I would approve, "I'll show a 10% growth on RI.6.4, a standard where I currently show 30% mastery." 

Goal setting is also effective when learners take school-wide, district-wide, or state-wide assessments. Do you work in a district that requires seasonal assessments? Before each assessment, provide kids with their scores from the previous assessment(s). Then, encourage them to set a goal for the upcoming test. Everyone wants to see progress, and students enjoy knowing that they're continually learning and growing. 

2. Require Self-Reflection After Large Assessments

After unit tests or projects, provide your kids with an opportunity to reflect on their performance. Ask targeted, specific questions to help them reflect on both strengths and weaknesses. If you set goals before unit tests, be sure to include an area to comment on their personal goals. Here are some example questions you could use to encourage reflection:

  • What standard(s) did you master? Why do you think you did well on these standards?
  • What standard(s) do you need to prioritize for the upcoming quiz? Why?
  • Why is it important to master this standard? How will you need it in the future?
  • What action steps will you take to improve on this standard throughout the week, unit, etc.?

3. Provide Class Data to Encourage Whole-Class Goal Setting

Share data (quiz average, performance on each standard, etc.) with your class and encourage a group discussion. Ask your class to make general observations, to compare their performance with other classes, and to identify the areas (concepts, standards, etc.) that they need to work on. After sharing out as a whole class, set goals. My classes tend to choose a low-performance standard that they know will repeat itself on our next quiz (like using text evidence in either fiction or non-fiction texts). Post the goal(s) in your classroom to serve as a constant reminder throughout the week or unit. Making these goals visible increases their importance. Consider offering a class incentive or treat if they reach their collective goal.

4. Make Time for Celebrations!

Celebrating success is an important part of a data-driven classroom. If I’m challenging my class to identify strengths and weaknesses through data points, I want to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to feel successful. There are many ways to celebrate success. Here are some ideas:

  • Create a quick PowerPoint slide to congratulate or shout-out top performers and those with large growth on the past assessment.
  • Create a data board that posts progress for each learner and/or has a spot to post the names of your weekly honorees.
  • Provide small rewards for top performers or those with large growth. You could offer a free homework pass, the opportunity to sit in a special, coveted chair that week, or something as simple as a certificate.
  • Call the family of your weekly honorees.
  • Reward the class for reaching their goal. Bring in a treat or offer an additional brain break to encourage celebration.

Data sharing can be a powerful tool that empowers kids to take ownership of their learning. How do you use data in your classroom? Are there specific strategies that work well with your class that you’d like to share with our learning community?