Leading Inquiry in Schools: Examining Mental Models of Data-Informed Practice


  • Jo Beth Jimerson Texas Christian University
  • Marla W. McGhee Texas Christian University


data use, data-informed decision making, data driven decision making, school accountability, inquiry in schools


In order to learn more about the ways in which educators in various roles construe “data” and “data use,” we conducted a study in a small school district in central Texas, collecting survey data from n=154 educators in August 2012. Analyses revealed that while all educators reported using some form of evidence to inform practice, the terms used to describe that evidence varied. Further, more teacher participants attached mixed connotations to the terms, as compared to district leaders and campus leaders. Teachers whose survey responses suggested broader, more improvement-oriented mental models of data use reported slightly higher levels of commitment to data-informed practice. We review models of data-rich collaborative inquiry that provide approaches similar to “data-driven decision making” but which may avoid accountability- and compliance-laden language that appears to heighten anxiety among some teachers.

Author Biographies

Jo Beth Jimerson, Texas Christian University

Jo Beth Jimerson serves as an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at Texas Christian University, where she works with aspiring school leaders and studies issues related to educational data use and school improvement efforts.

Marla W. McGhee, Texas Christian University

Marla McGhee is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at Texas Christian University in Ft. Worth, Texas where she focuses her work on action research for school improvement, instructional leadership and supervision, and leadership practices that promote information literacy and effective school library media programs. 




How to Cite

Jimerson, J. B., & McGhee, M. W. (2013). Leading Inquiry in Schools: Examining Mental Models of Data-Informed Practice. Current Issues in Education, 16(1). Retrieved from https://cie.asu.edu/ojs/index.php/cieatasu/article/view/1163