As speech-language pathologists, we are continually looking for the most efficient and effective speech therapy data collection methods. With hundreds, if not thousands, of data collection methods available, it can be overwhelming to find the best method to effectively record and measure progress on goals. Here are some of our favorites – from tried-and-true traditional methods to innovative digital options for speech therapy data collection.
Many speech therapists use tally marks to record data. They use symbols or letters to indicate whether they gave the child verbal, visual, or tactile prompts and plusses and minuses to show whether the child achieved the intended goal. This method can be useful when collecting speech data on the fly, as you can quickly grab a post-it, piece of paper, or even a piece of masking tape to record data; however, it does present some drawbacks. First, the tally paper can easily be misplaced. Additionally, if a symbol key is not readily available, others working with the children on your caseload may not be able to interpret your data.
Some therapists use a clicker to indicate success. This method is good for articulation drills; however, it is only effective when marking for independence. Indicating prompts can be challenging when using a clicker.
Speech Therapy Data Sheets
A favorite of speech therapists is a premade data sheet with goals and tally boxes. Although creating the premade datasheet does take some front-end work, having it will make life much easier because you’ll be prepared when it is time to work with the child. Premade data collection sheets with trials of 10 make it simple to quantify percentage or number of trials. There are, however, times when 10 trials are not possible.
There are several ways to quantify your totals, from basic math to using a calculator, and there are even charts available. This Speechy Musings Data Collection Cheat Sheet is free with a newsletter subscription.
Articulation – Chart from 1-100
Most speech therapists use multiple drills when implementing articulation therapy. One option for keeping data for specific articulation goals is to make a simple chart with 100 boxes. You can also make labels with the child’s name and goals in advance and stick it right on the data sheet.
Digital Methods for Speech Therapy Data Collection
Some therapists like to streamline data collection with digital options. Here are a few of our favorite digital data collection methods:
Swivel Scheduler – Swivel Scheduler is a web-based, HIPAA-compliant application that allows you to collect data digitally. It also does the math for you and gives you an overall average so you can keep up with the child’s present performance. It has a graphing feature so you can visualize progress. Finally, it has the option of printing datasheets for the children on your caseload.
SLP Now – Another option for digitally managing your data is SLP Now. It allows you to import your caseload, set up a schedule, and enter your data. You can generate graphs of progress, and it keeps track of all digital communication regarding the children on your caseload.
SLP ToolKit – SLP ToolKit is not only excellent for scheduling, but it is also a user-friendly option for digital data collection. You can create graphs to show visual representations of progress to parents and teachers during IEPs. SLP ToolKit allows you to pull up previous sessions to review progress, set goals for the current session, and note cues and strategies used in prior sessions.
How to Decide Which Speech Therapy Data Collection Method to Use
As you research what method works best for you and the kids you serve, ask yourself:
- How will I measure this child’s progress? Percentages? Trials?
- What is the most efficient and effective way for me to record the data?
- How easy will it be for me to implement this system?
- Will this method add to my workload or help me streamline?
- Are the goals concrete and measurable?
- How often will I collect data for this child? Each session? Biweekly? Monthly?
As a speech-language pathologist, you’re the ultimate multi-tasker. Not only are you charged with managing behaviors, but you must also effectively target goals while keeping the child engaged in a task. On top of juggling all these components, you also have to be an effective data collector. It’s a lot to handle, but you’re skilled and well-trained for the task. With a data collection plan in place, you’ll be prepared to record and demonstrate your kids’ progress and help them achieve their goals.