Friday, January 13, 2012

School Based Data Collection & An App Review

The last few months have been very busy and I have definitely had my ups and downs.  I began working at the Middle School level in October.  It had been years since I had last worked as a SLP in a school setting.  It has taken me a few months to get my feet under me.  While most pediatric therapy is the same, no matter the setting, there were a few adjustments I had to make when moving from outpatient peds to a school setting.  First and foremost was that I had to adjust to group therapy and working side by side again with classroom teachers.  Next was the paperwork.  It has been years since I had to deal with my own scheduling, IEP meetings or writing IEP's and progress reports.  I spent a good bit of time early on getting organized and creating documents to make my life easier.  Below are links to the documents that have saved me time and effort as I have progressed through the past several months.  I hope some of you may find them useful. 

Speech Rules
Caseload Tracking
Data Collection

You will notice that one of the files is a data collection sheet.  I have spent that last several years using computerized documentation and SOAP notes.  Despite that fact and despite my love of technology, I have been unable to find a Techie way of collecting data while working in the schools.  The easiest and most efficient way I have found to keep data is with my old fashioned paper and pencil data collection chart.  I have tried to find a higher tech alternative, however I have yet to find one that works for me. 

One higher tech alternative that I tried was the Super Duper Data Tracker App

Pros of the App:
The Data Tracker App includes many useful features including the following:

  • multiple goals for each student

  • varied response types  (tally, correct/incorrect, approximated, cued)

  • undo the last recorded response

  • store data for an unlimited sessions

  • add students to multiple groups

  • temporarily add students to a group to make up missed sessions

  • write notes for each student in a session

  • email results

  • graph results for each goal.

  • Entering student information was easy.  I entered students for one of my groups as I did not want to enter my entire caseload until I was sure I would be using the app.  I was pleased with the ability to enter multiple goals per student and the variety of response types.  When using the app, I found that I was able to easily switch between students and to accurately keep data.  I love that the app calculates percentages for the students and that you can email a graph of the data. 

    App Cons:
    It is time consuming to enter all student data and objectives.  No pre-set lists of goals or objectives are included, therefore you must type every objective for every student.  My current caseload is 64 students and each student has at least 3 language objectives for the year.  If I enter all of my students, I would have to enter at least 192 objectives.  If I had a large number of students working on articulation, the number of objectives to add would be enormous in order to collect data by phoneme and word position.  Some of this time consuming work would be eliminated if the developers included a data base of pre-set objectives that could be dropped into each student's file. 
    There is no easy way to input data that you have collected using other apps.  Often times I use apps within therapy that collect data for me.  In order to get that data into the Data Tracker App, I have to go back at the end of my sessions and input the data.  Again, I found this to be time consuming.
    Another con for me is that I use many iPad apps with my students and therefore, I can't use it to collect data with the Data Tracker App.  I considered collecting data on my iPod, however, the screen size proved to be problematic for me.   
    One final con is that I did not find an easy way to walk around a classroom collecting data on my iPad while also team teaching.  I find it easier to carry a clip board with me.  I found my iPad to be heavier and also distracting to my students who can't seem to stop themselves from asking to use the iPad whenever they see me carrying it around the room.

    Considering I am not currently using this app, I would have to say that I do not recommend it to others at this time.

    If anyone has found a techie way of collecting data, or if anyone is using the Data Tracker App in a school setting, I would love to hear from you. 

    That's all form me for today.  Until next time...

    ;) Deb


    1. I'm using a Google form this year. I do find myself taking data on my schedule/planner (I have one sheet per day so have big boxes for each period) and transferring the information into the form later if my student is using the computer or iPad or if I took the data in the classroom. Not super techie, and I use the same form for every student so the individual objectives are not there but there is a checklist of goal areas (and I have a good memory for objectives). It is working out really well though.

    2. thanks for the info! I've thought about that app, but with close to 70 students there is no way I could sit on my iTouch and input all those goals!

    3. Thanks for the info!! I was researching data collecting apps and it was great to read your views. Seems like the best way is to use an app that collects data for you and then transfer it to a form on a clipboard or excel spreadsheet. I also use games as a way to collect data. I know I am presenting 10 tasks to each student and I let them keep score on a dry erase board. At the end of the session I use the score sheet as my data collection. This way I am not writing the entire session just transfering it to my logs afterwards. Thanks again!

    4. Hopefully, someone will come up with a better data collection app. I haven't had the kids keep track of their own score. That is a great idea. Thanks for suggesting it.


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