Re-designing data discussions to improve teaching and learning

The research project will support participating school leaders and teachers to improve how data discussions are conducted in their school.

Lady with a piece of paper

Project overview

The Re-designing data discussions project is a new, exciting redesign of how teachers and school leaders present and discuss student achievement data in reading comprehension. While schools often collect and discuss such data, the international evidence suggests that not all ways of doing so are effective, and that teachers sometimes find discussions focused solely on quantitative data (numbers and graphs) less meaningful to their classroom practices.

We want to work with school leaders and teachers to redesign how reading comprehension data are presented and discussed so that it is meaningful to teachers and would result in improved teaching practices and student outcomes.

Why this research?

In the New Zealand curriculum, there is a focus on “Teaching as Inquiry”, that is, teachers are expected to collect, analyse, and discuss data on student learning to improve teaching practices and student learning. A sole focus on discussing reading comprehension data presented quantitatively (numbers and graphs) may be less meaningful and useful to teachers.

This project will challenge those traditional approaches, drawing on recent evidence that suggests that mixing a story-telling approach with numbers and graphs is more effective in improving student learning. This project will support teachers to more effectively meet the requirements of the New Zealand curriculum (Teaching as Inquiry) and improve their students’ learning.

Project aims

The overarching hypothesis is that teachers will be more motivated and better able to improve teaching practices and student learning if reading comprehension data are presented and discussed in ways that are meaningful to them. Previous work from the Woolf Fisher Research Centre strongly suggests that redesigning school practices requires school leaders and teachers to co-design these approaches and be part of testing and evaluating the design.

As such, in this project the researchers will:

  • Work with school leaders and teachers to determine an effective method of presenting and discussing data from reading comprehension assessments;
  • Trial and evaluate the new approach.

The evaluation of the approach will focus on two research questions:

  • Are teachers more likely to identify what teaching practices to improve as a result of the new method of presentation and data discussion?
  • Are teachers more likely to be motivated to improve their teaching practices as a result of the new method of presentation and data discussion?

Who's involved?

The project team wants to collect information from school leaders who are currently leading data discussions and teachers of students in any of the year levels 6-9.

What will tūtarakauika/ school leaders be invited to do?

School leaders will be asked to consent to participate in either Part 1 or Part 1 and 2.

Part 1 involves the following:

  • Attend one individual interview to provide feedback on a draft data discussion design and discuss what would make such discussions meaningful to teachers.

Part 2 (trial) involves the following:

  • Attend one initial planning meeting to design the data discussion meeting with the researchers;
  • Attend one voluntary and an additional focus group meeting with teachers to trial the data discussion approach.

Further information on commitments will be provided to participants.

What will kaiako/teachers be invited to do?

Teachers will be invited to complete the following: 

  • Complete one electronic questionnaire (multi-choice and open-ended questions) on their previous experiences with data discussions;
  • Participate in a voluntary and additional focus group meeting in which the Principal Investigator will present and discuss the school’s reading comprehension data using the new approach;
  • Complete an online survey about their experiences at the end of the focus group meeting;
  • Participate in a post-meeting interview (if they volunteer).

Further information on commitments will be provided to participants.

Contact us

If you would like more information, contact the Principal Investigator, Associate Professor Mei Kuin, Lai: mei.lai@auckland.ac.nz. 

Project team  
Associate Professor Mei Kuin Lai Principal Investigator
Professor Henning Fjørtoft Co-investigator
Mengnan Li Research Assistant