When one creates an assessment, one begins the process of collecting data about students. The way in which the assessment is constructed ultimately provides the guide book for what types of data are collected and how much it can inform the creator about student thinking.
Analysis is the process of taking data and breaking it down. Because analysis is heavily influenced by the data collected, it is extremely important to prepare data as it is collected. The following is a review of the definitions for data preparation.
Analysis: Breaking data down into smaller parts
Categories: Formed by data that is similar
Coding: Taking raw data and giving it a number so that it can be analyzed
Collecting Data: The process of recording the answers to assessments
Cutoff Score: Score at which students who are at or above the cutoff score, meet a defined standard of performance
Conclusions: Understanding built from the findings and turned into a story
Data: Any number or statement collected from an assessment
Database: The place where data is recorded in order to analyze it
Findings: A conclusion reached after examination or investigation
Objectives: Objectives are measurable goals
Sorting: The process of looking at data to find what is similar
Qualitative Analysis: This is a systematic examination and evaluation of descriptive data by dividing it into its component parts to uncover the inter-relationships of that data and understand the cause and effect of those relationships.
Quantitative Analysis: This is a systematic examination and evaluation of numerical data by dividing it into its component parts, to uncover the inter-relationships of that data and understand the cause and effect of those relationships.
Outcomes: The results of your assessments
How Data Preparation Leads to Findings
After collecting the completed assessments they are ready to be organized into findings that are useful. Analysis can help compare the objectives for the assessment with the outcomes of the assessment. The objectives of the assessment are the reasons for asking students questions and the outcomes are their answers to these questions. When comparing, or analyzing, the objectives with outcomes, one gets results and these will ultimately become findings.