With so much access to student data these days, teachers are experimenting with different tactics, and figuring out what’s working and what’s not. As with most scenarios using education technology, it’s a mixed bag. But questions of privacyaside, how it’s used depends on a variety of factors in each school and in each teacher’s classroom. Some teachers are embracing student data to inform their teaching, while others believe there’s a risk of an over-reliance on hard numbers that doesn’t take into account the human factor.
For example, for Amy Walker, who teaches Spanish in a small, rural, low-income school in Marionville, Missouri, says using data can be helpful, but she’s leery of relying too heavily on it.
“There is a place for data, but it can be overrated,” she says. “If you only use data, you’re overlooking the humanity of the students.”
Likewise, another educator raises a similar concern. “What then, you may be wondering, does a teacher do to assess a student’s learning? Easy: We look, we listen, we give regular quizzes and tests to see what a child has retained. We confer with children, we ask them what will interest them, what will make them tick and want to keep working hard at school,” writes commenter Dave in response to an article about storing student data.
But educators who do embrace data-driven teaching report that using data adds one more tool to their existing teaching tool chest, allowing them to help students in more specific areas of need.
Of the hundreds of educational apps and software programs on the market, most fall into three categories: analytical, motivational and instructional tools. And of these, many cross over and serve more than one purpose.
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