Using data to motivate: The “quantified student”
By Tyler on November 14th, 2012
In a tiny classroom on the fourth floor of a nondescript school building in the South Bronx, four struggling KIPP Academy students huddled with their reading teacher for an important strategy session. The second of four such sessions scheduled for this school year, this conversation wasn’t about vocabulary words or homework assignments or comprehension strategies. It was about data.
With MetroNorth commuter trains rattling past outside, the students, enrolled in a System 44 class to help them catch up to grade level, were about to take a short computer assessment to check-in on their reading growth throughout the year. Each student knew exactly how he or she stood after the first assessment earlier in the year, and knew the goal for the end of the year. How to do their very best on the assessment and get to the next level was the question at hand.
For some students, the teacher recommended they take more time on the assessment because she knew from data reports on her computer that they took only 8 minutes or 12 minutes last time. “Maybe you should set a goal of completing this in 25 minutes,” she told one boy. “Really take your time on each question.” He nodded and wrote that down.
Later there would be smiles and high fives for big increases to their SRI (Scholastic Reading Inventory) scores, but these pre-assessment data conferences were where the magic happens.
In a world where kids and adults alike are surrounded by data (from Facebook friend counts, to election poll numbers, to baseball statistics), KIPP teachers were bringing data into the classroom, putting it in front of students, and using it to motivate kids and help them take charge of their own learning. In many ways, they were gamifying the process of learning to read. What do I have to do to get to the next level? What do I have to practice to improve the next time? Our human brains are wired to feel pleasure when we succeed at something that took practice and hard work.
You might have heard about the “Quantified Self” movement — the idea that new technologies and mobile apps can help bubble up data to help us keep track of our health or fitness or diets. Think Nike FuelBand…
What I saw at KIPP Academy earlier this week was the “Quantified Student” in action. Sujata G. Bhatt and Annie Murphy Paul both posted about this in recent weeks. Thanks to them for planting the seed in my mind.
In a world of data, games and tech at our fingertips, perhaps this is the future of motivation and assessment?
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