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ERIC Number: ED546758
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Feb
Pages: 13
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Data 101: Guiding Principles for Faculty. A White Paper by the Academic Senate Executive Committee
Academic Senate for California Community Colleges
The use of data for making educational decisions and to assess educational outcomes has been legislated by political bodies and codified by accreditation. Faculty have always used data to inform the grading process--data is gathered throughout the term to inform the letter grade assigned at the end. However, in today's educational environment, faculty must also examine and use data to inform their practice and guide their work in order to improve student interactions, enhance pedagogical strategies, direct program development, and create evidence for program review. In addition, using evidence is essential as faculty address equity practices and advocate for educational opportunities that provide equitable access and outcomes for diverse student populations. Nevertheless, sometimes the word "data" sends people running in the opposite direction. Part of the reason for this negative reaction is the historical use (or misuse) of data as simple statistical ammunition for drawing inappropriate or misguided conclusions or even for more nefarious purposes. Occasionally data are used to assess a college's work or programs with a goal towards discontinuance rather than improvement. Another element of this reaction may be a general discomfort when conversing with those who gather, organize, and interpret the numerical data in purely statistical terms. To address issues reflected by this negative reaction, faculty must understand certain basic guidelines and concepts when dealing with data. Faculty need not become statisticians to skillfully find and use data, but they must learn to engage the data with a critical and analytical eye in order to interpret and apply it appropriately. This paper suggests several principles faculty should acknowledge when looking at educational data and assessing its usefulness. It also demonstrates the application of these principles to a hypothetical scenario and indicates sources for getting data relevant to the California community colleges.
Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. 555 Capitol Mall Suite 525, Sacramento, CA 95814. Tel: 916-445-4753; Fax: 916-323-9867; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Guides - Non-Classroom
Education Level: Two Year Colleges; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Academic Senate for California Community Colleges
Identifiers - Location: California