Research by Matt Jones and Tim O’Leary funded by an R.G. Menzies Fellowship is shaping how Wesley College teachers use information about student learning to improve their learning outcomes.

Focussing on Year 12 students’ performance, the research investigates opportunities – and potential obstacles – to developing a ‘biopsy’ approach, rather than a ‘post-mortem’ approach, to data analysis.

According to the research, a ‘biopsy’ approach not only enables teachers to understand each student’s performance but also the impact of their teaching within a subject and across subjects.

The research identifies several promising strategies for using educational data in schools to track student performance, student progression and make predictions on future performance and progression, all with a view to informing decisions about making appropriate interventions.

As a result of the research, Wesley has worked with the University of Melbourne’s Network of Schools (UMNOS) and Professors John Hattie, Patrick Griffin and Stephen Dinham. UMNOS collaborates with schools to develop their capacity in evidence-informed evaluation of teaching and learning.

The research by Jones and O’Leary has also informed the development of a ‘data vision’. This vision describes what an evidence-based approach to data collection and analysis across the College looks like in order to guide decision making regards data infrastructure, learning analytic processes and tools, and the provision of professional development.

The research, and cooperation with UMNOS and other schools, has informed a ‘biopsy’ approach to the analysis of evidence from sources such as IB DP and VCE, and NAPLAN results, with a focus on identifying the impact of teaching practices on student learning.

The College is also correlating student results from ACER Progressive Achievement Tests with internal assessments of student achievement and learning behaviours, to better understand student progress with a view to much more targeted and timely interventions.

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