Collecting data in the school setting is crucial for educators and other school administrative staff. As a teacher, it is important to assess the student's level of understanding of the given concept as well as to teach your students in an effective manner that meets their various learning styles. Data collection is also needed for students with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) since documentation of progress is mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Act.
Observing children in their natural environment allows you to gain an understanding of their behaviors and academic thought processes. Watch children complete various classroom assignments and simply write down the way in which they go about solving problems or completing tasks. Also, record your thoughts while observing the child. Be sure to note interactions with other students as well as any concerns you notice during the observation period.
An interview allows you to gain an understanding of the child from his own perspective. Create a series of questions to ask the student that relate to the type of data you are collecting. Ask the student about his likes, dislikes, fears and thoughts. Use this information to help develop assignments that your student will enjoy. Simply asking the student how he feels about a given situation often allows you to gain insight into why the student performs in the way he does.
Collect data on academic performance through a variety of performance-based assessment techniques. Use portfolios to gain a broad picture of a student's understanding of a given topic. Ask the student to present a poster board of information to the class about a thematic unit and use this as a final assessment of her overall understanding of the topic. A performance-based assessment allows you to collect data on your student as an alternative method to quizzes and tests.
A behavior assessment of the child provides you with data that are crucial to understanding why a child behaves in a given way. Behavior is an important aspect of a child's school performance to assess because correcting a problem behavior often improves the academic performance of the child. Invite a behavior specialist to come to your classroom to observe a particular student then ask her to prepare a Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) on that child. You can then use this to provide data for an IEP meeting and to alter your classroom to best meet the student's needs.
- "Assessment of Children and Youth with Special Needs Second Edition"; Libby G. Cohen and Loraine J. Spenciner; 2003
- "Assessment of At-Risk and Special Needs Children Second Edition"; Joseph C. Witt et al.; 1998.
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