Making Sense of Sensemaking: Understanding How K–12 Teachers and Coaches React to Visual Analytics

With the spread of learning analytics (LA) dashboards in K-12 schools, educators are increasingly expected to make sense of data to inform instruction. However, numerous features of school settings, such as specialized vantage points of educators, may lead to different ways of looking at data. This observation motivates the need to carefully observe and account for the ways data sensemaking occurs, and how it may differ across K-12 professional roles. Our mixed-methods study reports on interviews and think-aloud sessions with middle-school mathematics teachers and instructional coaches from four districts in the United States. By exposing educators to an LA dashboard, we map their varied reactions to visual data and reveal prevalent sensemaking patterns. We find that emotional, analytical, and intentional responses inform educators’ sensemaking and that different roles at the school afford unique vantage points toward data. Based on these findings, we offer a typology for representing sensemaking in a K-12 school context and reflect on how to expand visual LA process models.

Campos, F., Ahn, J., DiGiacomo, D., Nguyen, H., & Hays, M. (2021). Making sense of sensemaking: Understanding how K-12 teachers and coaches react to visual analytics. Journal of Learning Analytics, 8(3) 1-21.