Standards - Data-based Decision Making


ImageValue the use of data as the starting point for professional work.

Project Type: Individual
Class: EDTEC 540 - Educational Technology
Artifacts: Performance Analysis, Job Aid

 

Context

The performance analysis for my project in EDTEC 540 centered on problems San Diego State University (SDSU) faculty were having using the computer equipment in campus Smart Classroom podiums. Many calls from these faculty members to support staff were due to unresponsive or frozen computers. Restarting a frozen computer using the Smart podium controls is a fairly easy task, but for some reason this was not clear to many of the podium users. I conducted a performance analysis of this issue in order to determine what barriers were preventing the faculty from getting the computers working again, and therefore what solutions to those challenges would prove most effective.

The Standard Connection

Value the use of data as the starting point for professional work.

It was the data I collected in the performance analysis that guided EVERYTHING. I had the problem, and while it could have been easy to make an educated guess as to the cause and try to finagle some sort of solution, EDTEC 540 was the first time I was actually taught the "right" way to go about solving performance problems.

The collection of data through classroom faculty interviews, support call logs, and subject matter experts provided much insight to the real reasons why the problems were occurring. In addition, guided by Mager and Pipe (1997), my eyes were opened to causes for performance problems that I had not considered before such as flawed incentives, and users being "punished" for doing the task correctly or "rewarded" for doing it incorrectly. For example, in this project, it turned out some instructors would call for help and when support staff showed up they would just fix the issue versus showing the instructor how to do it on their own in case it happens again. By gathering and analyzing this data via gap and causal analysis, I was able to come to a well informed decision of creating a job aid that could be placed on the Smart classroom podium for easy access and reference.

Challenges and Opportunities

This class was actually the first time I ever had to do such a thing as a "performance analysis". To be honest I was a big fan of seeing a problem and just taking a good educated guess as to what the causes were never relying on data, which to me was just a math nerd term. In this particular case, since I work closely with the Smart classrooms everyday, I thought I knew what the problems was: these instructors just don't pay attention in their training. I could not have been more wrong! Facing this challenge head on and deciding to use it as my EDTEC 540 project to conduct a performance analysis showed me there were a few reasons not related to user error as to why the computer issues happened so often. I'll admit, it was a little difficult to take a step back and try to look at the situation as an outsider, since I am so close to the issue at work, but I am grateful I did so I could uncover these other causes to poor performance.

I remember my first enlightenment came when I was conducting the instructor interviews. I was asking them questions related to their experiences with the Smart podiums and thought I knew what the answers would be, but was so surprised when they were not what I expected. For example, they told me they did KNOW how to restart a frozen computer, but the podium did not contain accurate labeling to point out the location of its power button. It was RIGHT there and then that I saw why data gathering and analysis was such a key to solving performance problems.

Personal and Professional Growth

This realization of the importance of data in making effective decisions has already improved my own performance in other EDTEC classes I have taken in addition to my professional career. Instead of the old Aurora that would just make judgments or educated guesses, learning the steps to analyzing performance problems with data helps me take that step back and look a little deeper at the issues in front of me, knowing that things are not always what they seem!

References:

Mager, R.F. & Pipe, P. (1997). Analyzing performance problems. Atlanta, GA: The Center for Effective Performance, Inc.