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Increasing data-informed decision making in vocational education : an exploratory case study at Groenhorst Emmeloord

Winkels, Jessy (2014) Increasing data-informed decision making in vocational education : an exploratory case study at Groenhorst Emmeloord.

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Abstract:This research describes an exploratory case study on data-informed decision making in vocational education. For this study, data-informed decision making is defined as a cyclic process for translating data, through information, to workable knowledge and using this knowledge in a systematical and goal-oriented way to inform decisions at the student-, classroom- and school level. High quality in schools is one of the priorities of the Dutch Ministry of Education and many primary- and secondary schools achieve this quality by attaining in data-informed decision making. This process does not only lead to high quality, but also improves student results. Nevertheless, many vocational schools do not participate in data-informed decision making yet. Therefore, this research investigates how the use of data-informed decision making can be increased in vocational education, so this type of education can also benefit from high quality in their schools and increased student results. This study first focuses on defining the current state of data-informed decision making in one vocational school: Groenhorst Emmeloord. Second, as professional development of practitioners is crucial for the success of data-informed decision making, characteristics of a viable professional development program are explored in this context. A questionnaire, interviews and a workshop of Project Datateams, a promising program for secondary education, were carried out to answer these questions. According to Schildkamp and Kuiper (2010) data can be used for accountability, school improvement and instructional purposes. These types of data use are influenced by: (1) data characteristics, like accessibility, usability and quality of the data, (2) school organizational characteristics, like school leadership, collaboration, visions, norms and goals and training and support and (3) data user characteristics, like knowledge and skills to use data and attitude towards data use. These elements were used to describe the current state of data-informed decision making in Groenhorst Emmeloord. Regarding the current state of data-informed decision making use in Groenhorst Emmeloord, there is room for improvement. Respondents state to use data for accountability, school improvement and instructional purposes, but the results show that this data use level can still be increased. Therefore, Groenhorst Emmeloord could work on its data characteristics. These data are valued as sufficient for the purposes they are currently used for, but respondents question if these data fit all the data-informed decision making criteria. Second, Groenhorst Emmeloord could improve policy planning for data use. By this, school leaders can better guide the data-informed decision making process, there are clear objectives for data sharing, visions, norms and goals for data use become clear and training and support become available to improve the data use process. Finally, there are some mixed feelings regarding data-informed decision making; by creating a positive shared attitude towards this method, data use can also increase. Data-informed decision making is stated to be a difficult process in primary- and secondary education and this study points out that this is also applicable to practitioners of Groenhorst Emmeloord. Therefore, professional development could be very valuable to assist practitioners in learning the data-informed decision making process. According to Timperley, (2008), there are ten characteristics of a successful professional development program: (1) focus on valued student outcomes, (2) worthwhile content, (3) integration of knowledge and skills, (4) assessment of professional inquiry, (5) multiple opportunities to learn and apply information, (6) approaches responsive to learning process, (7) opportunities to process new learning with others, (8) knowledgeable expertise, (9) active leadership and (10) maintaining momentum. All ten concepts were evaluated with practitioners of Groenhorst Emmeloord and they were all found important; especially focusing on valued student outcomes (and student contentment), assessment of professional inquiry and multiple opportunities to learn and apply information. Many professional development programs that Groenhorst Emmeloord has participated in in the past did not result in maintaining momentum; therefore, it is recommended to pay special attention to making the program sustainable. The results indicate that Groenhorst Emmeloord could invest in improving their data characteristics, school organizational characteristics and data user characteristics. Because improvement is possible on different aspects, a professional development program could be very helpful to support practitioners of Groenhorst Emmeloord in this process. This can ultimately lead to an increased level of data-informed decision making in Groenhorst Emmeloord.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:81 education, teaching
Programme:Educational Science and Technology MSc (60023)
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