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Collate and Graph qualitative data - is it even possible?

Updated: Oct 18


I've always had plenty of little slips everywhere that give feedback from students about themselves (progress, peer assessment, feelings about the work) and my own teaching style. But until recently I have to admit I never really used it that well to reflect on my teaching or next steps for students. Why? Because...


I didn't have a method to collate or graph it all so that it gave me a clear picture of what the information showed.


So, I'd pop those slips into an ice cream container beside my desk (probably very clearly labelled with things like "Student Feedback" and "Peer Assessment Rubrics" to impress any visiting colleagues) only to be slowly buried by file boxes and ... stuff! Why? Because I didn't know how to 'graph' it, collate it, set it out in a way that gave me a 'visual'. Without this step, I was unable to act on all those stories and comments.


I had to find a way to graph this stuff!


Fortunately, my desire to play with 'pictures' led me to get my design on! Start, Stop, Keep feedback (what students want their teacher to start doing, stop doing and keep doing) can be graphed as you see below. Simply write all the comments down the left-hand column (I use one graph for the start comments, one for the stop (see below), and one for the keep. Then, if a comment reappears, colour an extra box on the right. The graph builds itself. If you're anything like me you'll have a few comments mentioned multiple times!


You can use this way of graphing 'comments' for pretty much whichever method you've used for collecting the data in the first place.


To graph how students' self-assessment grids - something usually glued in books and then only looked at by me on an individual basis - I came up with the design below. It allowed me to see how the class as a whole was progressing and feeling.


You can see that for this one I've added in students' initials so that I can see specifically how each student feels they're coping with this skill.


Either of the designs I've shown you here can be adapted for just about any qualitative data you've collected.


Remember, gather data naturally - as you need it, and for a specific reason - not because you feel you should! It feels good to be able to answer the old “…but how do you know?” question. For example:

· How do I know what students really think of my teaching methods?

· How do I know how students really feel about this work?

· How do I know what students have learned?

· How do I know what I need to focus on teaching next?

We all know we should be doing this, but we don't always do it effectively. However, once you have a toolbox of strategies for collecting a range of information, and a way to graph that - or make it visual - it becomes not just easy but almost fun to do!


Check out a great how to guide plus templates that come in editable Google Doc format in my Drive Resources or Teachers Pay Teachers store. (View it in the video below.)


BTW: For an easy way to graph and analyse your quantitative data check out my “Data Love” resources in my Teachers Pay Teachers or Drive Resources stores.


So, don't be overwhelmed by 'data', be it anecdotal, commentary or numeric, give these easy methods a go. It's worth a go - see Drive Resources Enjoy!




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