Analysis Methods for Student Data

Both quantitative and qualitative analysis techniques can be employed to analyze student learning data. Quantitative data are often easier to calculate and can aid in comparisons across years or across groups, whereas qualitative data can reveal the why or how behind the numbers. In addition to the analysis methods you’re already familiar with in your discipline, here are other some methods to consider:

MeasureAnalysis method
Common exam (GRE, disciplinary test, locally developed exam)Use SPSS or another software package to compare student achievement on individual items that correlate with your learning goals. Compare students across years or across tracks within the major to see where students are achieving and where they might need more practice before graduation.
Senior thesisDevelop a rubric to quickly and systematically analyze a sample of theses to see how well students have demonstrated knowledge and application of the key ideas and concepts within the discipline.
Senior surveySurvey data can be imported into statistical software programs for quantitative analysis. Open-ended responses can be imported into a qualitative software package such as NVivo for data organization, pattern recognition, and output–or they can be analyzed by hand. 
Focus groupsContent analysis can be used to organize transcripts or notes according to general themes and patterns of responses to key questions.
Grade distributionsAnalyze grade distribution in terms of what the grades mean and how well they match your opinion of student progress toward mastery of department/program learning objectives.
Pre- and post-testsUse these two data points to indicate change in students’ ability or performance.