Informed design involves gathering direct and indirect evidence to answer a pedagogical question, problem, or challenge. The data can come from course stakeholders (ex. instructor, students, other course instructors, curriculum committees, program coordinators, and/or department chairs) as well as a review of student performance, perceptual, and behavioral data in ways that guide course improvement. The following is the process we use to frame the work of informed design.
Clarify your question
It is essential to clarify the question you want to answer in this process. Reflect on the problem you have identified. Consider the following:
- When did this problem begin?
- What might be causing this to occur?
- What activities are involved?
Identify data sources
The next step is to identify what kinds of data you might need to answer your question. Identify what kinds of data are currently and easily available and determine the extent to which it answers or contributes to your understanding of the problem being addressed. Identify if there are gaps in the data that you may need to fill by collecting additional data.
Collect the data
Once data sources are identified, determine the ways in which you need to develop and deliver the content to collect the information to yield the best outcomes. Communicate to students the ways in which you are collecting data to answer specific questions.
Review the data
Once collected, you will need to gather and review the data. Determine what conclusions you can safely make from the data and what it tells you about the question you posed. Data alone, however, may not answer all of your questions and may lead to additional questions.
Respond to the data
Once you have reviewed the data and reflected on student performance, the next step is to act in some way. The data you collected may have highlighted some issues you want to address. Before making changes, consider the following:
- What other data might I need to make an informed response?
- What other factors might play a role in the response I'm seeing?
- How accurate or reliable is the data I'm using? What is it NOT telling me?
- How much time will it take for me to make a change?
- Can I respond now or wait until the semester's end?
Knowing how and when to respond to data appropriately can be complex. The Center for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring provides individual consultations to UW-Madison faculty and instructors to help you with these issues. If you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact us!