Data Management

Data provides information about students in order to help them become successful. By exploring, the information can be discovered. A benefit to online teaching is the access to a wealth of knowledge about students- grades, logged in time, missed due dates, and the number of attempts made on a lesson or assessment. Tailoring additional instruction can now be based on student need.


  • Analyze and use student data to plan and customize instruction.
  • Identify strategies for using data to guide instruction.


  • data-driven instruction- a systematic method of analyzing learner performance data in order to plan instruction that focuses on identified gaps and needs

Teachers have been tasked with the responsibility of meeting the learning needs of all students in their classes. The desire for data-driven instruction begins will assessment, but is not limited to formal assessments. Simple checks for understanding can often give enough information to adjust instruction. Additional ideas are having students post learning reflections on an online discussion board, journal at the end of each day, or use an online survey tool to allow students to self-assess their understanding. Use the results of these informal assessments to determine whether or not students understood the topic of the day's lesson.

  • observational data- a form of data gathered by observing the actions and methods of people in uncontrolled situations

Observational data like time on task, overdue assignments, and details learned about students through conversations and emails can be used in tandem with assessment data to address the needs of the students.

Create a Plan

Once data has been collected, analyze it! Look for trends. Should a large number of students answered the same question incorrectly it could be the topic is unclear to them or they may be unfamiliar with a particular type of question. An analysis will identify both successes and problems. 

After collecting and analyzing the data, what steps will be taken with the learned information? Perhaps reteach a topic to entire class or small-group intervention. The goal is to use the data to inform and adjust instruction. 

A chart such as the one below may be helpful to create a plan in response to the data. 

Learning Objective  
  Strengths Needs Plan for re-teaching or enrichment
(Student Name)      

Compare with Colleagues

Take time to compare data with grade level and subject-area colleagues. The opportunity provides a chance to analyze how educators taught the same concept differently. Some ideas are either reteach using a method that worked for other teachers or assign teachers to small re-teaching groups, based on need, led by the teachers whose students mastered a specific topic. 

Interact with the Students

A crucial step is to make time to interact with the students. Students may communicate via email, chat, or via the phone. This interaction and active progress monitoring will help recognize patterns in student performance. Responding to those patterns will enable the educator to help the student before they are too far behind to complete the course. Actively paying attention to student grades within courses will provide the educator foresight into potential issues. 

Digging into Analyzation

Use these four basic steps to get started: 

  1. Focus on a question. Skim data for clues to what a question might be to represent the data. "Why is this student falling behind?" "Is there a group of students in this course who are all experiencing difficulty?" 
  2. Analyze the data. Do this from the lens of the question. When looking at one student, look in all their classes. For a course, look at the grades and pace. Any patterns? 
  3. Develop a working hypothesis. This should be about the cause. Maybe additional data needs to be collected by talking to students, reviewing emails, or looking closely at course materials. 
  4. Intervene. Test the hypothesis. Learn. Begin again. 


Multiple hours compiling data is not necessary. A number of quick ways to get valuable information from the online system is available. Use data to drive instruction by administering an assessment (either formal or informal), analyzing the assessment results and looking for areas of need, and creating a plan of action to address those needs. Some common mistakes when analyzing data are expecting to find broad information about a group, waiting for students to ask for help, and trying to track all concerns at the same time. The system will provide a variety of data and tracking information, but nothing replaces the information acquired by having a conversation with students.