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Swimming, Not Drowning, in Data: Effective Teacher Dashboard Design for Formative Assessment

Listen and learn

Listen and learn : Snapshot

Thursday, December 3, 12:45–1:30 pm PST (Pacific Standard Time)
Presentation 2 of 2
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Dr. Robert Dolan  
Kim Ducharme  
Samantha Gilbert  
Allison Posey  

Try out a research-based teacher dashboard for guiding instructional decision-making based on student learning data. The dashboard makes test results actionable by overlaying them atop dynamic learning maps in a flexible, UDL-based fashion. Interact with actual and simulated student data using the dashboard.

Audience: Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers, Principals/head teachers
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices required
Attendee device specification: Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Topic: Assessment/evaluations/use of data
Grade level: 6-12
Subject area: Special education, Science
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Foster a culture where students take ownership of their learning goals and outcomes in both independent and group settings.
  • Use technology to design and implement a variety of formative and summative assessments that accommodate learner needs, provide timely feedback to students and inform instruction.
  • Use assessment data to guide progress and communicate with students, parents and education stakeholders to build student self-direction.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Properly designed digital reporting systems support educators in the challenging process of formative assessment by facilitating interaction with student diagnostic data in service of instructional decision-making. This session will allow participants to learn about and interact with a teacher dashboard that promotes interpretability and usability of diagnostic science assessment results at an individual and classroom level. This dashboard has been developed through a rigorous, iterative co-design process with teachers focused on application of universal design for learning (UDL) principles by seeking ways to provide multiple means for engagement, representation, and action & expression (CAST, 2018) for teachers, as well as scaffold them on more difficult processes, such as interpreting learning maps. Research results will be shared that indicate the dashboard provides teachers with a flexible environment for interpreting data and includes graphic displays of skill mastery in a learning map format as well as tabular information and links to additional resources.


1) Brief introduction of presenters and project. [3 min]
2) Discussion about challenges of formative assessment and data-driven decision-making. [5 min]
3) Detailed description of project and dashboard prototype. Participants will be free to explore the dashboard prototype on their own devices as they follow the presentation. [7 min]
4) Hands-on activities using dashboard with actual (anonymized) and stimulated student data. Activities will include answering specific questions ("Based on what we now know about Naima, how would best support her in learning about food webs moving forward?) and including game-like tasks (e.g., scavenger hunt). Activities will be punctuated by participants' questions and comments as they arise, with ensuing discussion. [35 min]
5) Sharing of findings from recent research. [5 min]
6) Final comments and impressions. [5 min]

Supporting research

Dolan, R. P., Starr, E., Wojcik, C., Ducharme, K. & Blackorby, J. (2019). Design Features Supporting Teachers’ Use of a Dashboard for Diagnostic Assessment Results. Paper presented at the NCME Annual Meeting, Toronto, ON, April 2019.

Starr, E., Dolan, R. P., Wojcik, C., Ducharme, K. & Blackorby, J. (2019). Teacher-Centric Design Process for a Dashboard to Support Formative Assessment. Paper presented at the AERA Annual Meeting, Toronto, ON, April 2019.

Blackorby, J., Dolan, R. P., Wojcik, C., Karvonen, M., & Romine, R. S. UDL Applied in Assessments. Presentation at the UDL Implementation and Research Network Summit, Orlando, FL, March 2019.

Andersen, L. & Nash, B. (2016). Making Science Accessible to Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities, Journal of Science Education for Students with Disabilities, 19:1. Available at

Kingston, N. M., Karvonen, M., Thompson, J. R., Wehmeyer, M. L., & Shogren, K. A. (2017). Fostering Inclusion of Students With Significant Cognitive Disabilities by Using Learning Map Models and Map-Based Assessments. Inclusion, 5:2, pp. 110-120.

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Dr. Robert Dolan, CAST

As Founder/Principal of Diverse Learners Consulting, and Senior Innovation Scientist at CAST, Bob brings 30+ years of experience in neuroscience, learning science, instructional design, assessment, and software architecture and engineering. His research and innovation efforts focus on the design and implementation of technology-based solutions, tools, and processes in education, emphasizing advanced data analytics to enable adaptive and accessible solutions for neurodiverse users, including those with disabilities. Bob has served as principal investigator on research projects funded by the NIH, NSF, and the Dept. of Ed. Bob received a PhD from MIT in Brain and Cognitive Sciences in 1992.

Kim Ducharme, CAST
Samantha Gilbert, S.M. Educational Research & Consulting

Samantha Gilbert is working to improve human rights to teaching and learning. Her work in research and consulting interweaves UDL with learning sciences, instructional design, and professional learning practice to explores what it means to be a diverse learner, educator, and creative engineer. Samantha is a former Research Consultant and member of the I-SMART (Innovations in Science Map, Assessment & Report Technologies) project team at CAST. She recently graduated from Harvard Graduate School of Education with her Ed.M. in Mind, Brain, and Education, and is actively seeking new opportunities. Go to to learn more about her work!

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