Data Collection Series: Choosing the right data sheets

So now that you're all set on what you should be taking data on in your classroom. It's time to figure out how to collect said data. There are a few quick and easy ways I like to collect data in my classroom and I want to show you some of my favorite data sheets.

The first thing I do when determining the data sheets to use in my classroom is to look at the goal I measuring. Am I measuring independence? Accuracy? Behavior? Frequency? Determining what I am measuring will help me determine which data sheet would best work to measure my students goals.

Have you ever written or seen a goal that looks like this: "When cued 'wash your hands' (student), will independently complete a hand washing routine in 4/5 trials as measured by teacher charted data"? This goal screams MEASURE INDEPENDENCE to me! This is pretty common when my students have a goal for a new behavior chain or routine.

When I'm teaching students a behavior or routine I want them to know, I'm a huge fan of the Task Analysis data sheets. This data sheet allows for staff to track the increased independence in a skill for a student.

I particularly like these sheets for 2 reasons. First, when I'm teaching students a skill, I'm quickly able to lay out each step of the skill and each adult in the classroom knows the teaching procedure because it's right there on the data sheet.

Second, I like this data sheet because I use it to record the level of prompting students need. When we collect data in my classroom we are quickly able to look at data from the previous completion of the routine and see what steps the student has done independently and know that they do not need additional prompts for this step of the behavior chain.

But don't fooled, Task Analysis data sheets aren't just for routines. If you're teaching a student anything that requires a series of tasks be completed in an order, you're going to want to look at using a Task Analysis data sheet. Some great examples are: completing addition problems, competing an independent work station, blending words, etc. Anything where students are completing a series of events and you're fading your prompts is perfect for a task analysis data collection system!

Have you ever written or seen a goal that looks like this:  "When presented with 10 addition problems (student) will write the correct answer with 80% accuracy in 4/5 trials as measured by teacher charted data". Did you see the word accuracy in that goal? That tells me I'm going to be measuring if my students are getting problems correct or incorrect. I could save work samples and grade them, but that sounds like a lot of paper to me and I'm a fan of reusable materials like my addition flipbooks.

My ultimate favorite data sheet for this is a simple discrete trial training (DTT) data sheet. When I record responses, I can use a simple + for a correct response and a - for an incorrect response. I can calculate this data and save it on a summary sheet or I can just keep the original forms. These are super quick to look back at when I'm reporting progress on goals in my program and I'm quickly able to measure my goals measuring accuracy.

Data collection tip: Use 5 or 10 trials per item for easy accuracy calculations (ex: 8/10=80%; 3/5=60%)

Have you ever identified a behavior happening with a student and want to know when or where it's occurring. This is when I like to measure frequency. I like to use a simple tally chart to collect frequency data in my classroom.

Here's an example for you. I had a student quite a few years ago who was a habitual spitter. We wanted to find out how often he was spitting and aim to reduce that number over the following year via a behavior goal in his IEP. So I used frequency data with this student. We were looking to reduce a problem behavior and knowing how often it was happening on a daily basis was going to provide the information we needed.

When it was time to measure this student's goal, I was able to quickly look at the number of times he was engaging in the behavior throughout the day and I was able to report on the goal.

Don't think frequency data is all about reductions of behavior. I've used frequency data to measure increases in behavior as well. Even more years ago, I had a student who would come to school and do LITERALLY nothing. We wrote him a work completion goal, implemented interventions and reinforcement systems, and used frequency data to track how many tasks he was able to complete in a day.

In my last post, I talked a lot about what data you should be collecting in your classroom. I shared that collecting data on outlying behaviors (behaviors that are not part of your student's IEP goals) is important. For this data, I like to collect ABC data. Often times, when I have students who exhibit new behaviors, they often aren't isolated. I will often see them again or they will escalate. Keeping ABC data will allow me to look back and determine the function of the students behavior.

ABC data can be time consuming, but I LOVE this ABC data sheet from Chris at Autism Classroom Resources. I usually end up making my own data sheets to fit my unique needs in my classroom, but this is one data sheet that doesn't need any tweaking from me. It is perfect as is and I have been using it for years!

Now that you've seen all of my favorite data sheets, I challenge you to think about WHAT you are measuring and design your data sheets to get you the exact information you need when reporting on goals.

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