Using Data in the Classroom

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Educators are turning to data collection and analytics in their music classrooms and finding ways to make the learning experience better for their students. In many cases, this implementation of data analytics doesn’t require significant financial investment or knowledge of advanced statistics. Educators who want to use data must simply be curious about how it can help their students.

Here are a few ways educators are using data in the classroom and changing their teaching experience by analyzing that data.
A class uses sheet music.

Technology Helps Manage Larger Class Sizes

Many educators across America struggle with increasing class sizes. According to The Atlantic, in Atlantic City, New Jersey, some high school classes will grow to 32 students, with some elementary school classes exceeding 29 students. Rising class sizes mean educators struggle to give students individualized lessons and keep track of who is understanding the material and who needs extra help.
Some data companies are working to assist with overcrowding. Andrew Fitzgerald, an instrumental music teacher at the middle school level, shared how he uses data on the Microsoft Blog. With the help of technology, he’s able to see which instruments are checked out for practice most often. With this analysis, he can see which students are practicing and listen for an improvement based on their time with the instruments. Using data, Fitzgerald can prove that practice really makes perfect.

Additionally, data helps Fitzgerald better analyze his students’ ability to tune their instruments. He can digitally evaluate which students can recognize sharp or flat notes and which students struggle with tuning. By spending more time with the latter, the instruments sound better, and the overall band or orchestra performance moves from great to outstanding.

Fitzgerald might have a class of 10 or a class of 40, but either way, he’s able to monitor his students and notice their individual abilities.

Data Collection Doesn’t Mean Constant Testing

Some educators worry that data collection means they will constantly need to evaluate their students. However, there are ways to collect data and analyze classes without pressuring students with further evaluation.

Aileen Miracle at Mrs. Miracle’s Music Room listed a few ways for educators to use games in the music classroom to collect data. Educators can see which students often win at games and which students continue to struggle. Educators can also ask students to play their parts in class to understand who needs additional work. Many music teachers do this already without realizing it, and data collection simply means recording the results and analyzing them later.

Solo performance and listening activities also give students more confidence. When they can play their parts for their peers, they can feel better auditioning for better parts or playing in a live recital.

Data Analytics Makes it Easier to Personalize Education

More educators are realizing that age and grade level don’t necessarily indicate a student’s knowledge of the material. Some students fly ahead in math and grasp concepts several grades ahead of them, while others struggle with the material throughout the year. The music class is no different, and the disparity gaps might be even larger than in other subjects.
Students who learn instruments at home understand how to read music, perform scales, and play complex pieces before students who don’t. Music educators often have to teach these virtuosos in the same class as students who have never seen the treble clef before.

According to CIO, technology can better evaluate what students know and where their knowledge gaps are. Instead of placing students in a “sixth-grade band class,” schools can create “beginner, intermediate, and advanced” music courses based on ability and needs. Furthermore, evaluation tools can also track the speed with which kids learn. Educators can identify students who are on the fast track and move them to more challenging material.

Personalized education is more valuable to students because the advanced learners are constantly challenged and learning something new while the slower learners aren’t left behind.

Data Collection Is About to Become Easier

Currently, educators who want to use data in the classroom must collect it themselves or invest in tools that will collect it for them. However, as technology becomes more prominent in the classroom, data collection will be an integral part of the learning experience. Modern music education programs, like the Master of Music in music education at Kent State University, focus on data in the education process to encourage music teachers to apply it in their classrooms from the beginning.

According to CogBooks, educators who collect data as they go instead of analyzing it at the end can better identify problems early and take the necessary steps to prevent them from growing bigger. While many music educators start with data collection analysis at the end of a learning period (commonly known as testing and grading), data is about to become more advanced. Collection tools and music apps specifically targeted to teachers will make collection and analysis easier, meaning educators will serve more as problem solvers than data scientists.

As educators embrace technology and apply it to their classrooms, music teachers will discover more uses for data in music education. If music teachers can discover creative ways to collect and track data and use it identify problems in the music classroom, then they can improve their teaching and leave a lasting love of music in their students.

If you want to better connect with your students in the music classroom or learn how to use technology for better performances, consider advancing your education with a Kent State University Online Master of Music in music education. You could get the tools you need to bring data to your classroom and improve the learning experience.



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