Zooming out and zooming in on student data: Developing teacher data literacy to enhance teaching and learning

Funding year: 
2 years
University of Waikato
School sector
Project start date: 
January 2019
Project end date: 
March 2021
Principal investigator(s): 
Dr. Frances Edwards and Prof Bronwen Cowie
Research team members: 
Nicola Gibson (Pukekohe Kāhui Ako)
Research partners: 
Pukekohe Kāhui Ako


Intro / Project description

While teachers and schools have access to an increasing range of data, the challenge is using these data to support student learning outcomes. This project works with a range of schools from one Kāhui Ako to develop a common narrative to better understand cohorts’ information beyond percentages. The development of teacher data literacy will allow teachers to zoom in to consider individual students’ or small group data, and zoom out to consider larger data sets including data across schools, in order to make better founded teaching and learning decisions. Students’ understandings of their own data will also be investigated.


This project aims to understand how to develop teacher data literacy as a process that involves generating and using data to inform teacher action with classes and individual students, and consideration of the implications of student data collated across a Kāhui Ako. Using a design-based implementation research approach, we will explore the nature of effective development and support for teachers as data coaches of their colleagues as a means of developing a culture of proactive data use.

Why is this research important? 

Despite increased interest in evidence based practice internationally and within New Zealand, research consistently reports that many educators do not make effective use of the student data they collect. Currently there is concern regarding the level of teacher data literacy in New Zealand (ERO, 2017). This project provides a focus on how teacher data literacy can be increased across schools within a Kāhui ako through the use of data coaches, and thus may inform professional learning of data literacy (including data formative use) more widely.

What we plan to do 

We plan to work initially with a group of teachers from nine schools within a Kāhui ako, to develop their data literacy and their capabilities to coach other teachers. Data coaches will work with their own classes and then with colleagues to analyse data and plan teaching in response to their analysis of student data. In the second year, data coach work will be scaled up and data coaches will work with greater numbers of teachers to allow for data literacy development across all levels in schools. Protocols for the work of coaches will be developed over the 2 year time frame of the project.

Data for this project will be generated during team meetings, through surveys, the collection of teacher plans and annotations from teaching sequences, teacher reflective interviews, evaluation of students’ responses to teacher actions and student achievement data, and student voice.

We will draw on social network theory and analysis to describe and explain the structure of the social relationships and the role these, and project meeting processes, material resources and protocols, play in the development of teacher data literacy development.

Our partners

Pukekohe Kāhui Ako


Dr Frances Edwards: frances.edwards@waiikato.ac.nz, (07) 856 2889 ext 6170

Professor Bronwen Cowie: fbronwen.cowie@waikato.ac.nz; (07) 856 2889 ext 4987