Data informs seemingly everything we do and counselors use these digital skills every day. From examining how effective a particular program is to conducting needs assessments of staff and students, there are five sub-skills that are crucial to learn if counselors are to feel comfortable using data in their career. By graduation, they should be able to answer these questions.
What data should I collect?
It’s not enough to collect just any data. There are thousands of databases online and a thousand more ways to collect new data. However, being able to determine exactly what data point you’re looking for in every situation and who holds that information is important to ensure data integrity. As the cliche goes, “garbage in, garbage out.” Prepare your students for success by helping them understand what good data looks like.
How can I effectively collect data?
Students need to understand how to interpret databases as well as how to formulate their own surveys. For existing databases, they need to be able to decipher if it’s legitimate, spot any unanswered questions, and figure out how to fill in the gaps. If they’re collecting their own data, they need to know what tools (more than just SurveyMonkey) exist and how to phrase questions that aren’t leading and don’t miss anything important.
How can I efficiently collect data?
Most students will learn basic tools like Excel in their statistics class. Make sure yours are absorbing more than how to sort columns and multiply rows. Can they import data into Excel? What tool should they use when Excel isn’t enough? How do you manage surveys sent out by email? What databases are out there that they should check before undertaking a new survey? Help them save countless hours in the future by teaching them practical ways to save time that also will help them be better analysts.
How do I track ongoing data collections?
Hopefully your students will have the opportunity to conduct a large-scale study during their careers. Project management skills come in handy for this. Help them understand the entire process of data collection by teaching them how to use tools like Gantt Charts, best practices for following up, and how to correctly analyze data over various time periods.
How do I analyze data?
Once they have the data, they need to know how to use it and apply it. Can they accurately interpret results? And more than that, they should be able to spot what questions the data doesn’t answer. They should also be able to propose recommendations based on their findings and prove out potential outcomes by tying in tools like decision trees.