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Collecting evidence

For teachers to understand how their students are doing, and what next learning steps should be, they need to know about the expected rates of progress for students at different levels of the curriculum.

Teaching as inquiry


Determining which students would most benefit from pedagogical change, determines what you focus your inquiry on. Student achievement data, in the form of standardised tests and OTJs, can be a valuable  - and fast - way of deciding who needs more or different instruction in order to gain success. This is not the only measure that can be used. Anecdotal evidence, gathered from observations, evidence from formative assessment tasks, student or parent voice - all are valid ways of identifying areas where students may need modified instruction.

Gathering evidence about student achievement serves two roles in a teaching inquiry. It helps to identify who the students are, what their learning needs are and which modifications to teaching and learning approaches might work best, against which you can monitor and measure the actual impact on different students, and adjust and adapt practice accordingly. 

Challenging questions

At this stage of the inquiry you can ask yourself:

  • What's going on in my classroom for learners?
  • What do they say about their learning?
  • What do I observe?
  • What are my "hunches"?
  • What do I need to learn more about to make this better?
  • What's not working in my classroom? What is?

Assessment for the purpose of improving student learning is best understood as an ongoing process that arises out of the interaction between teaching and learning. It involves the focused and timely gathering, analysis, interpretation, and use of information that can provide evidence of student progress. Much of this evidence is “of the moment”. Analysis and interpretation often take place in the mind of the teacher, who then uses the insights gained to shape their actions as they continue to work with their students.

The New Zealand Curriculum, p.39

Collection of evidence

A variety of high quality evidence will give you the best information on student progress and success. Data can be gathered from:

  • classroom engagement and participation
  • patterns in student achievement data
  • teacher documentation and observation
  • teacher planning showing alignment and intention, and reflections on progress
  • student feedback

Student voice

Collecting student voice helps teachers to find out about the impact of their teaching, so this fits well with teaching as inquiry. Collecting student voice can be done through online surveys, written or spoken reflections, focus groups or one on one conversations. Talking to students can also help with the direction of your inquiry as students are involved in deciding what, and how, they learn. 

Tawa Intermediate
Tawa Intermediate teachers asked their 21st century learners what they want from their 21st century school.

Assessment tools

Assessment tool selector
The assessment tool selector is a resource for teachers and schools to help them select the most appropriate assessment tool to suit their particular purpose. The selector gives you information about assessment tools most frequently used in New Zealand schools, in every area of the curriculum up to and including Year 10. You can also compare tools to see which one is the most suitable.

Learning logs or journals provide a way for learners to identify learning goals, record evidence of success, and reflect on learning needs.

Learning stories
Learning stories integrate learning dispositions into a story framework and include an analysis of the learning. They frequently include possible pathways or 'what next?' suggestions.

Portfolios hold evidence of learning compiled over time. Learners select items to include and write descriptive reflections of what each item shows about their learning. An ePortfolio is a single online folder that gathers a user’s digital media of all kinds, such as records of learning and teaching resources, teacher, students and peer feedback assessment information, and goal setting and monitoring.   Consequently it is the ideal way for capturing data and information about your practice and the learner’s experience. 

Outcomes and indicators
This matrix is used to guide student self-evaluation. It provides a way to collect evidence about student perceptions and enables students to track their progress.

Ideas and inspiration

Scanning: What is going on for your learners? (PDF)
This guide explains the different phases of the spiral of inquiry.

Spiral of inquiry: It's a new year, should we start again?
This blog offers advice to educators about how to reflect on previous progress made with collaborative inquiry and establish where to next.

Enhancing learning with assessment
James Rasmussen discusses assessment for learning at Newlands College. James challenges educators to look at what assessment is being done in schools, and if this is really getting to the heart of the teaching as inquiry cycle and changing teaching practice to meet the needs of students.

Learning analytics
CORE's Mark Osborne believes the data we collect about learning must be relevant, reliable and meaningful, and that it’s pointless to gather data if we’re not going to use it. Mark asks what the 'teaching as inquiry' processes are like in our schools, and how well is data used when making decisions about what needs to be learnt next and how students might best learn it. 

Using data to inform school development at Mairehau Primary School
Principal John Bangma, and Deputy Principal Jenny Washington discuss data driven decision making at Mairehau Primary School, where learning walks and reciprocal visits are used to collect data at a whole school level. This data can then inform school development as well as feed back into classrooms.

Where to next?

Now that you know who will benefit from modified teacher practice, how do you put new strategies in place to engage and support these students?’

That’s all about taking the information you have gathered here, and evaluating it to change your practice.

Updated on: 19 Dec 2017