What data points are needed to demonstrate learning?

Week of Questions

This week I tracked the number of questions that I was writing down on a notepad throughout the week. I categorised them into three categories – work, personal, and school related.

When selecting the type of data that I wanted to focus on this week, I wanted to be intentional about not tracking something related to time. Instead of looking at the time interval when I had a question, I wanted to see the higher level theme of where my train of thought flowed on a daily basis as well as throughout the week.

The visualisation reads from top to bottom with a few questions likely missing from Sunday as I’m writing this around 3-4PM in the afternoon. There is no mention of time, rather the symbols are representative of my question list for the day. To use Monday as an example, I started the day with writing down a personal question, then opened my laptop to begin working. As I worked, I wrote down a few work related questions. As the day passed, you’ll notice that most of the later part of the day were personal questions again.

As a first reflection, this was harder to track than originally thought. There were several moments this week when I stopped myself throughout the day to ask if I had remembered to write every question down. I am sure there are a few that I missed – questions that were in the back of my mind, but I simply forgot to write down, or multiple things were happening at once, distracting me from the data collection task.

This reflection reminded me of an article that I read back in November about how the pandemic is likely affecting memory. At the time, I felt like I was losing it because I was forgetting things left and right. In reading about memory, I stumbled on the article and bookmarked it to remember the tips given. Hammond (2020) reported that the pandemic is likely affecting our memory because our day-to-day has become so monotonous that we have fewer things to anchor our memory, less social interaction and overall lack of variety. These data points have in the past shown a correlation with worsening memory, so it’s not usual that we are questioning our memories more than usual the longer the pandemic continues.

Secondly, the amount of personal questions stood out to me as I was reflecting on the day, but they actually doesn’t come as a surprise. This week was not a usual work week in that I was participating in an online conference, which has several presentations that were focused on us as individuals, e.g. a motivational speaker. This week as result had a big focus on asking personal questions, e.g. ‘what do I want to…’, ‘can I …’, ‘should I…,’ etc.

In a previous post, I mentioned that I try my best to separate my work and personal life. This week, that separation became obsolete as the presentations I participated in had a personal focus, even though it would be classified as a work activity.

In the past three weeks, the most important reflection for me is a renewed appreciation for how ‘personal‘ the data actually is when looking at data points from the perspective of, or on an individual level.

It’s also highlighted the importance of identifying the question you want to answer prior to embarking on the journey of data collection.

As someone who doesn’t work as an educator, each data collection has provided an opportunity for self reflection and learning about my own habits and behavior. This week focusing on questions was one that dug deeper than tracking something ‘surface level’. By this, I mean, for example, the distinction between talking about the weather and asking a question to truly understand how someone is feeling. It’s made me reflect on whether or not a student should have access to the list of data points collected, as well as the questions (i.e. what learning) are being asked.

Additional Reflections:

  1. I’d like to do more of a deep dive into the questions, but with the public nature of this post, I have chosen to keep it high level and not share my sub-categories, or the questions themselves as that would be sharing what I see to be personal data.
  2. One way to view the ‘missing questions’ is human error… and I have to admit, I find tracking data using technology much easier than relying on myself to do it properly.
  3. Looking back at the questions, it’s in reality more like a to-do list some days rather than a list of questions that require me to figure something out, get an answer, or reflect.

Hammond, C. (2020, November 16). Lockdown has affected your memory – here’s why. BBC. Retrieved from

2 replies on “Week of Questions”

‘Instead of looking at the time interval when I had a question, I wanted to see the higher level theme of where my train of thought flowed on a daily basis as well as throughout the week.’

Excellent challenge to set yourself! Time seems such a straightforward way of structuring our data tracking, but it doesn’t have to be, and it does seem to orient this kind of work towards thinking centrally about ‘saving’ time, and being efficient – these are things that may not be all that important for ‘learning’.

Having said that, structuring your data around days of the week seems to reassert time as a fundamental ordering for your visualisation. We are, of course, tracking data ‘each week’ for this task, but I wonder if there might be ways to represent our data in other ways – for example, what would this visualisation be like if the ‘work’, ‘personal’ and ‘school-related’ categories were the ‘grounding’ categories, rather than days of the week? Maybe this would lead to more personal data being included, which you also caution against in this post.

Hi Lisa,
I can certainly relate to the memory issues that undoubtably the current situation is bringing upon many of us.
I wonder, how easy did you find it to categorise your questions as strictly either ‘work, personal, or school related’?

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