Learning Science and Data in the Classroom
Dr. Michelle Taub is an assistant professor of learning sciences and educational research at the University of Central Florida. Her research focuses on self-regulated learning and how technology supports the use of self-regulatory processes and learning across different contexts. Technology can be in the classroom, using a game-based learning environment, or during training sessions.
The problem highlighted in this brief
From standardized test scores to student outcomes, the amount of data available to teachers can seem daunting and difficult to analyze. Learning sciences bridge the gap between understanding data and applying it in real classroom settings to improve student performance in the classroom. Understanding the use of student data in the classroom as well as understanding what learning sciences actually are is included in this brief. Classroom teachers are able to benefit from understanding how to analyze data to increase student learning and comprehension in the classroom will lead to student success. Teacher preparation can and should include understanding how to use data in the classroom and why it is useful.
Why does this topic matter to teacher preparation?
Student data are underutilized in the classroom, and teachers need to leverage practices and research in learning sciences to better use student data to support student learning and enhance learning outcomes. Teachers would benefit from an increased understanding of how to implement lesson plans based on student data. A teacher's understanding of data encompasses becoming a learning scientist. The ability of future teachers to become learning scientists and understanding why this will help them become successful can only increase success in teacher prep programs. Preparing pre-service educators for knowledge, skills, and dispositions towards effective use of student data in teacher education programs will support educators in transferring those skills into practices when they enter the profession (Kohler et al., 2008). However, questions remain regarding how teacher preparation programs can better incorporate practices and research from learning sciences into candidates' course work and practicum that lead to effective use of student data.
About This Brief
The brief covers methods for using data in the classroom along with what a learning scientist is and how any teacher can become one. First, we start with Dr. Taub explaining the research she has completed and how it applies to teacher preparation programs. Next, we move on to potential opportunities for our students with disabilities. Finally, Dr. Taub speaks on specific challenges and recommendations for our teacher preparation programs.
Research and Practice Context
Educators are constantly being asked to look over data. What this means to individual educators differs depending on what subject they are covering or what task they are being asked to complete. The amount of data seems omnipresent in the minds of teachers all around the country. However, further research is required to understand the overall implications on teacher preparation and student learning (Van Lare, 2016). If educators look at small changes overall in the analysis of data, over time it would not seem so inundating to the profession as a whole and is able to lead to large gains for student achievement overtime (Smithson et al., 2015).
Dr. Michelle Taub’s research focuses on using technology to collect data to improve overall understanding of how students think and work in real time. Her research includes working with multi-level data in game based learning to assess learning. She has also completed research on sequence mining with game based-learning to find out about students efficiency in scientific reasoning. Her research continues by using eye-tracking technology to identify where students focus in a fractions mathematics game called Dream2B.
The following are key insights shared by Dr. Taub on her thoughts and research related to both learning sciences and technology. The interview focuses on five questions related to learning sciences and teacher preparation programs. She continues by including recommendations and opportunities for teacher preparations programs in relation to learning sciences.
Q1: Dr. Taub, can you tell us a little about your research/practice and how it can be applied in your teacher preparation programs?
Dr. Taub’s research includes studying self-regulating strategies for students based on prior knowledge. The completed research allows Dr. Taub to apply her expertise in the area of self-regulation to students in classrooms and help teacher preparation programs use this information to better prepare future educators.
Dr. Taub: My research focuses on studying self-regulated learning, and how technology supports the use of self-regulatory processes and learning across different contexts.
Q2: What opportunities do you think your research may have for improving higher personnel and related service programs that prepare professionals who serve students with disabilities?
Tools for our students consist of different technology such as eye tracking and communication aids. Assistive technologies have been proven to improve students with disabilities performance in the classroom, thus the amount of data we have available from each student could directly correlate to implementing the exact accommodations that they need if we are able to properly interpret that data.
Dr. Taub: So not only are we improving programs to help students with disabilities by providing new tools they can use, we are also providing training on how to use these tools so we can provide individualized support to each student and their exceptionality.
Q3: What challenges, if any, do you think might have emerged when applying or implementing your research in professional preparation?
If teachers fully invest in the understanding of technologies available as well as how to use them then they can understand what an integral part they will play in the future of learning.
Dr. Taub: I think one of the biggest challenges I have encountered is making sure teachers or schools don’t think our goal is to replace them.
Q4: What would you recommend for a teacher preparation program that is just starting with learning sciences and data?
Reaching out to experts in the area you are learning about can be an efficient method to gain knowledge of how to utilize technology as well as analyze data. So much information is available currently that can help teachers understand they can find that and not reinvent the wheel.
Dr. Taub: Reach out to authors of papers and literature with questions, make sure you have the chance to become familiar with whatever technology you're using, and it is really important to become familiar with what is already out there.
Q5: What else should teacher preparation programs consider moving forward?
Taking time to understand how technology works and how it is best implemented in the classroom is one of the ways that can help to increase the potential for success with using it in the classroom.
Dr. Taub: If anyone is interested in taking this approach of bringing learning sciences to the classroom, I would suggest that just because all these data and technologies are available, it doesn’t mean they all need to be used at the same time. Instead, really think about what you are trying to accomplish with this program and how these tools can help you accomplish that or those goals.
Holman, K., Taub, M., & the CIDDL Team. (2022). Title. The Center for Innovation, Design, and Digital Learning.