In my last post I mentioned that the tool that I'd constructing for walking students through the thinking required to effectively analyse data possibly created more problems than it solved. I'm hoping that I've fixed that by creating this Google Sheet that auto-populates certain cells with required information, rather than relying on students to follow a colour code system. This means they can focus more of their cognitive energy on thinking about the data, rather than the structure of the report. I'm planning to use this as a formative feedback, so I might add some more columns for comments in future, but here is the first draft.
Data Analysis Tool for Students
Something that I've struggled with since teaching the MYP is giving students clear instructions on what they should include on practical reports. As teachers, it can seem straightforward because we have the skills required to write holistically and because we have a deeper understanding of scientific concepts. But to a student that is learning scientific concepts while simultaneously learning a new style of writing the process of completing lab reports can be confusing, frustrating and intimidating. I've tried various tactics to try and ease the cognitive burden for them (links to clarifying documents, checklists, prompting questions, sentence stems) with varying results. I can't claim that this latest effort at scaffolding my student's thinking is any more effective for student learning than any of those other approaches. In fact, at first glance it may seem unnecessarily confusing. But I tried it out with one group of students and found that the process of grading was much simpler when their thoughts were more organised. The next variation on this idea will likely be a spreadsheet that autopopulates cells with the necessary information, rather than relying on the current colour coding system. More to come.
Analysing Data Step By Step
Luke Scholtes is a Science teacher with eleven years experience, currently working at the American International School of Bucharest.