Group Session Data Collection Made Easier

Imagine this: One SLP, 3+ students, 10+ combined goals, and only 30 minutes. How can one even attempt to add accurate data collection in there? Ah, the terror! Unfortunately, you probably don’t have to “imagine” it, as this is a reality for many of us in the school setting. Data collection can be a pain, especially in a group setting, yet this is a vital part of our profession. We want to see the difference we are making in numbers (and often are required to). While many people already have a system that they have figured out and adapted to, I know there is still a handful of people looking for something better or willing to try something new. That’s where I come in! In this post, I will share my group data collection method. I have included pictures of my data sheets and a link where you can download them for yourself. Hopefully, you find this useful, or maybe take something away from it that can be adapted into an even greater idea!

Data Collection?

Pluses and minuses, tallies, prompt and cue keys, etc. These are the symbols of our day-to-day. The chicken-scratch on sticky notes, binders, clipboards, and folders that we refer to as our “data-collection.” Data collection is important because it allows us to track our student’s progress, analyze and adjust our therapy strategies, plan for sessions, create activities, report to parents and teachers, and of course write our lovely IEPs. Data collection can become a struggle when there is more than 1 student across the table, when you are in an integrated classroom teaching multiple students at once, or you are in a rush to cover as many goals as possible in a short 30 minutes and do not have time to flip back and forth between student’s IEPs or write down their goals before each session. This is where efficient and easy data collection is important. By using the datasheet model, I am about to share, you can effectively plan activities, look back at what was worked on in previous sessions, and ensure that you are conducting the most efficient therapy sessions.  

So, what’s the idea?

To make my therapy sessions most effective and take accurate, organized data, I use the template that I have linked HERE. In this datasheet, there is a space to write all the following information:

  • Date of Session
  • Activities
  • Each student’s objectives
  • Goals to be targeted during the session
  • Data

I have included examples of a data sheet for a group of 3 below:

Figure 1

So where do I even begin?

  1. At the beginning of the year, after creating your therapy groups/schedule, create a data sheet for each group. You can simply copy/paste the objectives from each students’ IEP. 
    1. Q: But isn’t this SOOO time-consuming?
    2. A: Yes and no. It will take a long time in the beginning to get it all set, but once it’s done, you are basically organized for the year!
  2. Print your data sheets and place them in a binder in group order. That way, you can easily flip through your caseload throughout the day. 
    1. Q: How many do I print?
    2. A: At my school, we track progress in 9-week periods. Therefore, I print 3 of these for each group to cover my 9 weeks. At the end of each 9 weeks, I edit the documents to reflect new groups/IEPs if needed. 
  3. Use the activity box to plan activities for the session. 
  4. Use the data boxes to jot down which goal you will target during each activity. 
  5. Then, ta-da! You are set for your entire session! You have a plan, an outline to follow, and space for your data!
    1. Q: Do I need to take data like your example with pluses and minuses?
    2. A: No! That was just a quick example I created. Take data as you normally would.
  6. Since 3 weeks fit per page, you can see what you worked on the week before, which goals have not been targeted yet, which goals need to be targeted more, etc. It’s all in one place so your brain can connect it all at a glance, yippee! Refer to Figure 2 below to see how I crossed out what had been worked on already and planned other goals to target the following week. 
  7. There is also space at the bottom of the page where you can jot down any notes. 
    1. Q: Notes? Like what?
    2. A: Anything! This could be behaviors of the student, observations you have made, new goal ideas you may have based on performance in a session, ideas for the next session, birthday reminders, etc. Anything! 

Sounds great, right? Oh, having doubts? Here are some answers!

Q: Some of my students’ get new goals during the 9-week period. Will I need to reprint it?

A: The #1 quality of an SLP is flexibility. Luckily, sticky notes provide that for us. If a student gets a new IEP, you can use a sticky note with the new goals until the next 9 weeks when you edit and retype any datasheets that need to be changed.  Refer to Figure 3 below. 

Q: What if my group changes?

A: Sticky notes! Add in the new student. OR just reprint the edited document ☺ 

Q: What if I have more than 4 kids in my group?

A: First of all, so sorry! That is a handful! If you download the document on Word or Google Drive, you can insert another column and adjust the sizes to fit a 4th ☺ 

Figure 2

Figure 3

 

Though this data collection idea is not foolproof, it has saved my life the past 2 years. Of course, nothing is consonant in the school-based SLP world, but this format offers lots of room for flexibility! 

Takeaways: 

  • Group therapy can be a PAIN! 
  • Data collection is so important. 
  • Effective therapy can be planned with the right datasheet. 

By using a data sheet that includes everyone’s goals on one page, it provides a lot of information at a glance. This can be helpful for planning activities, tracking progress, and collecting data. Even if you do not like this format, hopefully, it has sparked some innovation in your mind to create something even better!

Have a great semester, my SLP friends!

 

Author: Christine Mantchev, M.S., CF-SLP

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