Collecting Data’s Just a Start: Why You Need It in a Usable Format

November 26, 2014 Kristen Hicks

You know data’s useful. Good data moves you away from guessing games about what works to actual knowledge you can track and use. Technology’s made it fairly easy to collect data. So much of the process is automated that many institutions of education aren’t using all of the data they’ve collected.

For data to do anything for your institution, you have to actually use it. In order to use it, you have to understand it. This isn’t just a challenge faced by institutions of education; businesses are struggling with the same thing. The more data you have, the harder it is to find the information within it that’s valuable to your organization.

Data’s Useless without Analysis

There’s a whole industry of job titles and training that’s emerged because of this problem. Everyone agrees data is important, but it’s often hard to make sense of it in an efficient and useful way unless you’re trained in doing just that. Data analysts help pass the information buried within the data and deliver it in a more digestible format. Once you’re able to see it in an easy-to-understand format, it can become a driving force for improvement at your institution.

Technology Can Help with the Analysis as Well

Advances in technology created this problem. Machines got better at collecting huge quantities of data before people were adept at translating it into useful information. That begs the obvious question: why can’t technology help people make better sense of the data as well?

In some cases it already does. Just as there’s an industry centered on people performing data analysis, there’s one centered on products that help with data mining and analysis. If the product you use to collect the data delivers clear reports that give you the information you need, you can circumvent the problem altogether.

Data You Can Use

Many schools familiar with ExamSoft think of it as a tool for administering tests. Some of our current clients have gotten much more out of the product by using it as a tool for data collection and analysis.

ExamSoft allows you to tag all of your questions and assignments based on the main categories you want to track, and then it gives the collected information back to you in a clear, visual format that’s easy to understand.

You can view data for the following:

• Individual students on each test and assignment.
• Individual students over the course of their time at your institution.
• An entire class.
• The entire student body.

With this information, you can pinpoint exactly which students need help, where they need to improve, and what weaknesses the overall curriculum has that should be fixed. In addition, you get the data automatically in a format you can use. You’ll still need to do some analysis to figure out what steps to take next, but much of the hard work will have already been done for you.

We can show you what those data reports look like so you can decide for yourself if they’d be helpful at your institution. To learn more, set up a demo.


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