While special education teachers realize how important data collection is, it is one of the areas teachers tell me they struggle with the most. These tips will help you organize, collect and analyze data.
Know The Type Of Data You Need
The first step in setting up a data collection system is to find out which types of data you need to collect. Here are some examples:
You need to know what you are taking data on and why you are taking this data. This will help you choose the correct data form needed.
Having the correct data form will make analyzing the data so much easier!! For example, if I am taking data to see if little Joey is initiating communication more than last month I would use a frequency data form. I will easily be able to see how frequently Joey initiated communication and how many times he need a prompt. If I had used an intensity data collection form, I wouldn’t have the data I needed to assess initiation skills.
When Will You Take Data?
Now that you know what type of data you need to collect, it is time to decide when the data will be collected and who will actually take the data. For some goals you will need to take data all day long. For other goals, you should pick times of the day that the student should be using that skill. For example, ABC (antecedent, behavior, consequence) data should be taking all day because you are looking for patterns and function of the behavior. You would not take data all day long if the goal is to attend in groups of 4 or more students.
Train Staff On The Data Sheet
Take The Data!
Even with all of this planning, you may still run into trouble. I find this to be especially true when collecting language data. For example, at times we have to collect data on how many times a student made a request. I was finding that numbers greatly varied between paras, so I scheduled a time to observe the paras while they were collecting data. I realized that not everyone had the same definition of what constituted a verbal request. I had given examples during training and thought it was pretty straight forwards… Nope!
You may need to be clever in solutions to data collection problems. In the example above, I made a video of me and another person to practice counting verbal requests. I simply recorded a 2 minute role playing scenario on the class iPad and found 15 minutes to watch it as a group and count. That 15 minutes was so fruitful! It revealed so much about how staff was thinking about and doing the collection. Again, whenever possible, have these conversations in a group setting to save you from repeating yourself over and over.
Looking for more information on data? Check out these blog posts: