What is the average number of staff development hours per year for teachers within and across countries? What is the association between student-teacher ratios and student achievement in a country or state’s primary schools? How does instruction differ among teachers in a school district who receive different amounts of staff development? Why do teacher qualifications influence instruction? These are examples of the types of questions that educational researchers ask. The data that they gather usually include a locational component, and hence, mapping that data often provides insight and leads to new questions and lines of research.
In the past, the number of educational researchers engaged in mapping their data has been modest, in part perhaps because of the expertise required to do so. But all of that is changing with the advent of easy-to-use yet powerful mapping tools. One of them is ArcGIS Online, which allows for variables to be easily mapped from spreadsheets, analyzed, stored, and shared in the cloud. The number of ways to share the results includes Story Maps and web applications. Another is Esri Maps for Office, which allows for data from Excel to be mapped and even embedded inside PowerPoint presentations. None of these are static maps–they are live web maps that you or those you are communicating with can modify, add to, and change the scale in.
The above questions are examples of those asked in descriptive educational research. Yet mapping holds value for some types of experimental research as well. For example, a study that compares the achievement or attitudes of students before and after an educational intervention can be mapped and compared with the sociodemographics and even environmental variables of where they reside.
The Esri education team is keenly interested in serving the needs of educational researchers. Esri regularly participates in the American Educational Research Association’s annual conference; come see us this year in San Francisco or in the future.
How are you mapping your educational research, or how would you like to do so?