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Analysing educational datasets with subject advisors in Free State – more fun than it sounds

Analysing educational datasets with subject advisors in Free State – more fun than it sounds

In February 2015, 45 subject advisors from the Free State engaged in a trajectory to strengthen their research skills. From 17-19 August 2016 the third and last workshop in this trajectory was held at the DTDC in Kroonstad. This workshop had two tracks: an advanced and a basic track.

The case study for the learning trajectory is a longitudinal research project from the University of Antwerp, Belgium in collaboration with the Free State Department of Education (FS DOE) and VVOB.  The central research question of this research is whether there is a relation between participation in teacher professional development, learning outcomes and attitudes towards learning in teaching. 

This third workshop followed a hands-on approach. The skills acquired during the first two workshops were applied to the data subject advisors use in their daily work. Data files and reporting tools from the department were used as much as possible.

The workshop started with an input session from Prof Donche and Prof De Maeyer -both from the University of Antwerp- to present and discuss the research findings of the first data collection (learners and teachers, 2015). After this input session, and based on a self-assessment, participants split up in two groups.

The first group focused on basic research skills. They engaged with EMIS data and looked at how they can analyse and interpret data in their daily practice. They organised MS Excel data files on their computer, learned to understand the structure of datasets and created datasets. They learned how to present data using charts, calculate frequencies with pivot tables and conducted basic statistical analysis.

The second group worked with more advanced research skills, such as sampling theory, T-test, analysis of variance and regression analysis. At the end of the workshop participants applied these skills in an integrated exercise.

Every participant received a manual which explains step by step approaches to complete specific actions in Excel. Whenever a subject advisor feels uncomfortable with developing a pivot table, the manual can be of reference.

The workshop helped participants to reflect on their role as an M&E practitioner within the FS DOE. Participants appreciated the support by the University of Antwerp and VVOB. They indicated that the skills they acquired during this workshop will help them in their daily work to interpret data and complete reports.

Written by : Fezile Dabi

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