Ph.D. Thesis Proposal, "Creating Tools To Support Teachers, Their Teaching And To Help Them Improve Their Practices In The Classroom"

Franceska Xhakaj

Tuesday, June 30, 2020 - 3:00pm
Virtual, streaming via Zoom


Amy Ogan (HCII), Chair

John Zimmerman (HCII)

Geoff Kaufman (HCII)

Marsha Lovett (Eberly Center and Department of Psychology)



Teachers play a crucial role in supporting students’ learning. It is crucial therefore to support teachers in their practices and help them improve on their teaching. Traditional means to support teachers are highly effective but also repetitive and not personalized (i.e., professional development seminars or workshops) or not scalable and infrequent (i.e., professional development through expert classroom observations). As classrooms become instrumented with educational technologies, opportunities emerge to provide teachers personalized and frequent support through data from these technologies. While prior work focuses on supporting teachers during class, a small but growing body of work looks at supporting teachers' reflection and goal setting outside of class, to promote deeper reflection as a first step towards improving practice and long term behavior change. In my thesis, I build on this work and I develop tools to support teachers' reflection-for-action outside of class, with data from educational technologies. My aim is to help improve teachers' practices and support their behavior change in the classroom.

In Part 1 of this thesis, I explored teacher data needs in relation to student data. I found that teachers generated data on their students and used it to drive instruction and remediate issues. Based on these findings, I designed a dashboard and in a classroom study, I investigated how it affected teachers and students. Findings showed that the dashboard influenced what teachers knew about their students, which affected their lesson plan, and in turn guided what they covered in the class session. I demonstrated that data can affect teacher knowledge, decision making and actions in the classroom, thus leading to behavior change.

In Part 2, I explored and designed for teacher data needs in relation to their own data. I also investigated how to support teachers' reflection-for-action outside of class. I found that teachers are interested in their own data, in addition to their students' data, in particular, how their actions and behaviors affect their students. Furthermore, teachers reflected on their own data and set goals on how they wanted to improve. Through various proxies for behavior change, teachers showed their willingness, readiness and intentionality for changing their behaviors, which is an important first step towards improving their practices.

In my proposed work in Part 3, I aim to create a deeper understanding of how the design of a technology that shares with teachers data can support teachers’ reflection-for-action outside of class, as a first step towards long term behavior change. Through archival data from my prior work and user-centered studies, I will better understand teacher data needs in relation to their students and their own data and design to bridge the gap between those needs and existing technology capabilities. I will create a tool that adapts to teacher data needs and provides them with professional development as a way to support reflection and goal setting on changing and improving their behaviors and practices in the classroom.

This thesis intends to contribute to research at the intersection of the learning sciences, human-computer interaction, and technology development. I intend to provide a better understanding of teachers' data needs and design to bridge the gap between these needs and existing data from technologies. Furthermore, I intend to provide evidence on how data affects teachers' reflection, planning and goal setting as well as action and behavior change in the classroom. Lastly, I intend to provide a theoretical framework and design guidelines for designers of technologies that share data with teachers to support their reflection-for-action and long term behavior change.

Document Draft: Please find the link here.

Queenie Kravitz

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