It seems that finding effective, efficient methods of data collection is a task for seasoned clinicians and new graduate students alike. There are sessions when I can cruise through on-line data collection without a backwards glance, and there are other sessions where I get so caught up in a client’s complex issues that I find myself struggling to keep track of what kinds of prompts/support I had to give to elicit a target behavior. I used to throw together my own data sheets before sessions, but the time commitment that turned out to be was insane on the grad-student timeline! SO, imagine my joy when one of our fab UW clinical supervisors introduced us to some great data-collection resources from the Treatment Resource Manual for Speech-Langauge Pathology by Froma P. Roth, Ph.D. and Colleen K. Worthington, M.S. (at the University of Maryland). We were given a handful of pre-made data collection sheets included as appendices, and I have decided to share my all-time favorite (and go-to data collection method) with all of you!
The form is simple: in the left hand column, you can write the name or description of a task you’re using during your session. In the smaller columns to the right of that, you indicate the accuracy (or lack thereof) of the client’s response to your antecedent during each trial. You can also track the prompts the client required for each triel. This sheet is a fast way to gather critical information in an organized fashion, AND it’ll be fast to find previous data if you know what your data collection sheets look like! Now that you have the basics down, here are a few tips for making on-line data collection simple, organized, and functional!
1. Make an “accuracy key” that’s functional for each specific client and write it at the top of your data collection sheet!!!
- It might be as simple as + (correct), A (approximated), – (incorrect).
- OR, you might want codes for varying levels of prompting/support you have to offer each trial, especially if you’re working on fading prompts. For prompt codes, I tend to use: Rp (repetition of the initial cue), Ch (characteristic hint: a verbal hint about a characteristic/a descriptor of the target response to clue the client in the right direction), G (gestural pompt), Vs (visual prompt), Ph (phonemic prompt), IM (indirect model), and DM (direct model). Now, don’t get me wrong-I don’t necessarily use all of these for the same client in a single activity. BUT, it’s nice to have your own hierarchy of prompting down for when you need to keep track of it!
- You might need to make your codes abstract if your client catches on to +/– types of coding. Consider things like: O (old)/T (target), or even just pick random symbols that you assign meaning to: ^/X. Just make sure your coding system doesn’t get overly complex (because then you’ll spend more time trying to remember how to use it than actually using it effectively). Data collection is supposed to be efficient!
2. If your client makes lots of approximations of the accurate response (more common in artic therapy), consider using a numerical scale to capture how close their approximations are to the correct production.
- This way you can track progress even if the productions aren’t 100% correct. I like to use a 1-5 scale, where 1 is completely incorrect, 5 is perfect, and 2-4 are scales of accuracy in approximated productions. Then, write the number into each trial number spot on the data collection sheet!
3. Write an abbreviated version of your client’s behavioral objectives/goals at the top of their data sheets before each session.
- Why? Because this serves as a fantastic reminder of what they are working on. I can imagine that goals start to blend together when you have lots of clients on your caseload, so this is a simple strategy to keep you on track and help you shape activities to the client’s individual goals when you’re using more client-directed activities in a session! You can write these down on a data sheet before filling anything in, and then just photocopy that initial data sheet to be used for additional sessions!
This last sheet is one option for aggregating your individual session data into a graph to track progress over time.
Alrighty folks, I hope some of this resonated with you and potentially helps you out the next time you take some awesome, rockin’ on-line data!