A Data-Driven Approach to Programming

During the Digital Music Production Workshops that took place within the Resnick Education Wing this spring, Building Beats was able to leverage its own assessment framework to provide a data-driven approach to this program.


Essentially, a data-driven approach is one in which “feedback mechanisms” are built into the program’s structure from the beginning.  These “feedback mechanisms” allow admin teams and instructors the capability of visualizing student progress across any target objective.  Whether we are assessing musical skills and concepts or other interconnected areas of learning, we are able to gain a comprehensive view of the program’s strengths and weaknesses through hard data.  This data helps to provide an objective assessment of how the program is performing, and it effectively makes sense of disparate opinions that may arise from various administrators and instructors.


Implementation in our Digital Music Production Programs


Student Assessment


In order to implement this data-driven approach to program assessment, we utilized the following three tools to assess student progress:


  • Program Entry & Exit Survey – this survey was administered to students upon first entering the program as well as at the very end of the program.  The purpose of this survey was to gauge the “long-term” growth of the students over the entire course of the intensive program.  Furthermore, the Entry survey also provided the opportunity to gather demographic data when students first entered the program. A sample of this survey may be viewed here.


  • Pre-Workshop and Post-Workshop Survey – this survey was administered to a sampling of students at the beginning and end of each workshop.  The purpose of this survey was to provide us with linear week-over-week data on student progress while also allowing us to track the individual progress of students during each workshop. A sample of this survey may be viewed here.


  • Small Student Focus Group Survey – this survey was administered orally to a small group of students during the lunch break.  The purpose of this survey was to capture verbal feedback and qualitative information from students regarding their thoughts of the structure and content of the overall program.


When designing the questions for each of these surveys, the following six objectives served as the foundation for measuring student growth:


  • Musical Skills
  • Musical Concepts 
  • Technological Skills
  • Connected Learning
  • Community Development/Brokering
  • Career-Orientation

Instructor Self-Assessment


Furthermore, we also administered a survey to the program’s instructors in order to capture instructor feedback on the program.  This survey was structured based on 5 different aspects of instructional methodology that was developed by the Building Beats administrative team:

  • Challenging & Objective-Based Lesson Plans
  • Respectful, Inclusive Classrooms
  • Healthy Learning Environments
  • Motivated, Inquisitive Students
  • Continuous Improvement in Instructional Methodologies


A sample of this survey may be viewed here.



Long-Term Implementation and Longitudinal Data


During these first-ever digital music production workshops to take place within the Weill Music Institute, we had the opportunity to lay a data-driven foundation.  Now that the initial implementation has taken place, these assessments may be easily replicated with minimal costs in future programs.  These real-time assessments could continue to provide the admin team and instructors with an ongoing visual analysis of how modifications to the program affect student growth and learning.  As a result, administrators and instructors are equipped with the tools to test out new educational strategies and immediately see their affect on student progress.


Furthermore, by implementing data-driven “feedback mechanisms” throughout all of our programs over the long-term, we will be able to capture longitudinal data on our students, instructors, and programs.  Our hope is to utilize this longitudinal data to prove the effect that music programs have on the next generation’s musical aspirations and larger life skills.


Between equipping our admin teams and instructors with the capability to quickly visualize student progress and the long-term benefits of capturing longitudinal data, a data-driven approach helps to highlight instructional successes while quickly identifying areas of improvement.  In the end, the quality of our programming is strengthened all around.


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Digital music workshops produced by Carnegie Hall in partnership with Building Beats are supported by the Hive Digital Media Learning Fund in the New York Community Trust.


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