Examining Data Driven Decision Making via Formative Assessment: A Confluence of Technology, Data Interpretation Heuristics and Curricular Policy

Apr. 02, 2011

Source: Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 11(2), 205-222. 2011.
(Reviewed by the Portal team)

The authors explored the potential barriers for the successful adoption of the CaseMate system, a tool created to support data driven decision making (DDDM).

The CaseMate tool allows instructors to arrange various media elements with embedded assessments that display and deliver students’ assessments to the teacher.

The authors addressed to the following research questions:
1. How can CaseMate play a role in facilitating formative assessment in the classroom.
2. What are the professional development and curricular policies that are needed to support the use of CaseMate (or other web-based tools)?

The participants in this usability study were 42 preservice students in a masters program for teaching.
The group included secondary mathematics, science, English and social studies preservice teachers who had completed at least 12 weeks of student teaching at the time of the intervention.
The usability study was broken into four parts:
(a) a presession survey and reading,
(b) a group session involving a demonstration of using data to facilitate instruction,
(c) an analytic task event, and
(d) a post-session survey.


Three assertions emerged from the analysis:

1. Curriculum Structure and Policy Can Inhibit the Implementation of Formative Assessment
Three items emerged as barriers:
(a) time,
(b) uncertainty of how to address learning gaps exposed by a formative assessment, and
(c) student motivation.

2. Data Access to Student Assessments Is Supported by Color-Coded Dashboard Displays
One goal of this study was to determine if the CaseMate color-coded way of representing data was useful to teachers.

Of the 42 participants who were present for the usability test, 28 returned the postsurvey related to the perceived usefulness of the CaseMate data dashboard display.
All but one of these 28 rated the color coding as being highly desirable.

3. Data Interpretation Varies Widely: A Hodgepodge of Heuristics Exists
The third finding illustrates that data are still filtered through the perspective of the individual.
Theefore,  the confluence of teacher perception that would need to be taken into account when trying to promote the use of formative assessment in classrooms. 

Updated: Jul. 31, 2013