Using Data Notebooks to Empower Students


In the classroom, educators gather a lot of data on students. Such data helps paint a quantitative picture of a students' development, educational progress, and even social well-being. This data can help to make decisions at a state, district, school, or classroom level. But, more importantly, such information provides great guidance for designing the most effective instruction for that student. It aids in the understanding of what is working well, what could be done better, and how a student is progressing toward his educational goals.

To this end, teachers across the country have implemented data notebooks into their classrooms to provide students with a dedicated space for setting goals, monitoring progress, and reflecting on performance. Common notebook pages include mission statements, behavioral and academic goal setting, histograms, and plus/deltas for reflecting on past performance. While some of this might seem redundant, since teachers too keep a wealth of student data, research has shown significant differences in academic motivation between students who set and track their own goals versus students who are assigned goals by their teacher. Also, having students engage in such activities provides an excellent opportunity to model self-regulatory behaviors--behaviors associated with lifelong learning skills. 

To achieve these benefits, we developed Data Notebook as a digital solution for paper-pencil notebooks. Designed to support students’ self-regulation, Data Notebook provides tools for students to set personal goals, monitor their own learning, reflect on previous work, and communicate their progress to teachers and parents using real data. Within the notebook, students can use built-in templates to create mission statements, set goals, generate checklists, reflect using plus/deltas, create and practice spelling lists, and plot histograms. Data Notebook also includes a blank-page and scratch-paper template that enables students to load pictures, drawings, and more into their notebook. Students can also add sections to the notebook in order to set, monitor, and reflect on individual goals by subject.

"Keeping track of their own data gives them ownership. I don't have a single student who doesn't want to improve each time we put in new data."
—5th grade teacher

TOCReady to get started? Here are a few integration strategies:

  1. Integrate into daily instruction. We produce data every day; be sure to capture that.
  2. Encourage students to set both short-term and long-term goals.
  3. Use the share function to create a notebook skeleton for younger students.
  4. Strive for cross-disciplinary use. Take advantage of the features that allow students to organize their notebooks by subject.
  5. Collaboratively create classroom-level data to model best practices.
  6. Do not forget about time for reflection.
  7. Use as a centerpiece for parent-teacher conferences (or student-led parent conferences!).

Read more about the research foundation used to guide the development of Data Notebook.


About Author

Lucy Kosturko

Lucy Shores Kosturko, PhD manages product development for SAS Institute's K-12 educational initiatives, a suite of cross-platform offerings promoting data literacy, artificial intelligence and computer science. After graduating with a B.A. in psychology and computer science from Rhodes College, she earned a M.S. in computer science and PhD in educational psychology from North Carolina State University. Lucy lives in Raleigh, NC with her husband and two daughters.


    • Lucy Kosturko
      Lucy Kosturko on

      Hi Cara-

      The templates provided with Data Notebook focus mainly on recording data. However, we do have an excellent writing tool: SAS Writing Navigator. At this time, it does not support highlighting, but does include wonderful scaffolding to take students all the way through the writing process.

    • Lucy Kosturko
      Lucy Kosturko on

      Hi Sonia- From the home screen, click the share button in the upper right corner (square + arrow), select the notebook you'd like to delete, then tap Delete in the upper left corner. Please let us know if you have additional questions!

  1. Karen D'Elia on

    Hello, Lucy!
    I left a message with Julie Brown asking her to contact me, but I am also wondering if you might be able to answer a few questions about the Data Notebook App regarding access and sharing.
    1. Does a student have to use the same iPad each time to access his/her data notebook?
    2. Is there a way to password protect a student's data notebook so other students using the same iPad can't open it?
    3. I am confused about the sharing feature. At the Home screen, when I tap the icon to select share, it changes to Done. I'm not sure what is happening here. Notebook has access to Photos and Camera.

    Thank you for your help!

    • Lucy Kosturko
      Lucy Kosturko on

      Hey Karen!
      1) Yes. For now, all notebooks are stored locally on the device.
      2) No, but great suggestion! We'll add it to the list of future features.
      3) After tapping the share icon, tap the notebook you'd like to share. You'll notice a blue checkmark appear on the notebook. Then, you'll have the option to email the notebook. Recipients must have the Data Notebook app to open the notebook.

      I hope this answers your questions! Thank you for the feedback, and stay tuned for exciting updates to sharing, cloud storage, and more!

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