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Data teams for school improvement: Sharing knowledge

Scholten, Nienke (2013) Data teams for school improvement: Sharing knowledge.

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Abstract:When school leaders and teachers base their decisions on data, it can lead to powerful learning and sustainable improvement in education, this is called data-informed decision making. Data can be defined as all the information that teachers and schools need for decision-making, for example demographics of the student population and student test scores. A promising way to increase data-informed decision making in schools is setting up data teams within schools. These teams can consist of teachers and school leaders. Through a structured cyclic procedure, members of a data team learn how to use data to solve a certain educational problem within the school, such as low student achievements. During this procedure, data team members gain knowledge on data use in general and knowledge on the educational problem. The extent to which knowledge is shared between data team members and their colleagues might be of vital importance for increasing data-informed decision making and improving education by solving educational problems. The present study explored knowledge sharing between data team members and their non-data team colleagues. Research was conducted in four schools with a data team. Interviews were conducted with data team members and several of their colleagues. Also, artifacts were collected, such as PowerPoint slides and newsletters. Data analysis provided insight on how knowledge is shared, what types of knowledge are shared and the enabling and hindering factors in knowledge sharing between data team members and non-data team members. The results showed that data teams share their knowledge on data use and the educational both formally (e.g. by using artifacts) and informally (e.g. in informal conversation). Overall, more knowledge was shared on the educational problem than on data use. Results show that data teams were comparable in the types of medium used to share knowledge (e.g. newsletters and presentations). The frequency of knowledge sharing differed between cases. Results showed that overall more knowledge was shared on the educational problem (e.g. hypotheses and problem statement) than knowledge on data use (e.g. data collection and data analysis), respondents were also less able to recollect this knowledge. Several reports were found of management support, the climate of trust, and a sense of responsibility both hindering and promoting knowledge sharing. One promoting factor was found, namely the value of knowledge. Anticipating the importance of knowledge promoted data team members to purposely share this knowledge. Also, one hindering factor was found, namely the gap between the knowledge base of data team members and the knowledge base of colleagues. Within cases, respondents differed in their perception on whether factors promoted or hindered knowledge sharing. This indicated that the influencing factors were subdue to personal perspectives and beliefs. In addition, results also provided unforeseen influencing factors, such as the interest of non-data team members in the data teams’ knowledge. Results also showed that perceptions on knowledge sharing differed between knowledge providers (e.g. data team members) and knowledge receivers (e.g. non-data team members), in terms of whether knowledge was shared, indicating that knowledge sharing was not always successful. Further research should explore the success of knowledge sharing by analysing in detail the internalization of knowledge by receivers. Results of this study can provide schools with insight in influencing factors for successful knowledge sharing. Schools may use this insight to their advantage to achieve successful knowledge sharing.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:81 education, teaching
Programme:Educational Science and Technology MSc (60023)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/64320
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