Leveraging Data to Support Young People’s Education and Wellbeing

Harmonising education and student wellbeing data for child and youth research.
Six kids with tablets sitting in a circle on a colourful carpet around an adult, smiling
Project
Leveraging Data to Support Young People’s Education and Wellbeing
Project lead
University of South Australia
Who will benefit
Peak bodies, research organisations, data analysts, infrastructure providers, governments (state, territory, and Commonwealth)

Timeframe

March 2021 to May 2023

Current Phase

In progress

ARDC Co-investment

$367,500

The Challenge

State and territory education departments hold rich information about various aspects of Australian students, including: 

  • socioeconomic, demographic, and cultural backgrounds 
  • enrolment and attendance 
  • behaviour management 
  • wellbeing and engagement 
  • disability 
  • access to psycho-social services 
  • academic achievement. 

But while these data have a great potential to facilitate research, they are held in numerous custom-made databases that do not talk to each other, varying in terms of the content, detail, quality and governance. This makes it difficult for researchers to tap into them. In fact, with the metadata often missing, many researchers would not know the data exist in the first place. A curated data asset is needed to understand how our education system is performing and evaluate the efficiency of mental health interventions delivered at schools.

The Response

This project will create an enduring database linking education and wellbeing data from multiple databases, covering such areas as enrollment, attendance, behaviour management, academic achievement, and student wellbeing. Over time, this will paint a fuller picture of the students’ journey throughout their school life. A collaborative, coordinated approach will maximise the comparability and use of all these data from different states and territories.

The project will involve:

  1. evaluation of existing datasets – state-held data will be assessed for their quality, the public interest in them, and their utility. A data harmonisation crosswalk document will be created from the metadata, and a FAIR data guideline implementation plan will be developed
  2. consultation with research advisory groups and end users – the data harmonisation crosswalk document will be used for consultation with research advisory groups and end users. Key variables will be selected, and potential harmonisation issues will be identified
  3. data curation and merging – partners will curate their datasets in line with the final harmonisation document. The datasets will then be transferred to the SA Department for Education to be cleaned and merged. Data access mechanisms will be finalised and tested
  4. researcher access and transition to business as usual – data will be accessible to researchers via the Fraser Mustard Centre / SA Department for Education webpage in line with the FAIR guidelines. Metadata/data dictionary information will be made available, and project outcomes can begin to be tracked.

Who Will Benefit

This project will benefit:

  • peak bodies
  • research organisations
  • data analysts
  • infrastructure providers
  • governments (state, territory, and Commonwealth).

The Partners

  • Telethon Kids Institute
  • SA Department for Education
  • Tasmanian Department of Education
  • ACT Education Directorate
  • National Schools Interoperability Program
  • Education Services Australia

Target Outcomes

The project will deliver:

Linkage of wellbeing data

With the vital linkage of mental health and wellbeing data, a framework will be created for future data linkage and longitudinal assessments of mental health in children will be possible

Improvements to research-outcome tracking

The inclusion of research-outcome tracking will allow better understanding of how researchers are accessing, using, and disseminating the data assets

Pathways to future success

This project will pave the way for future data linkage among partner organisations, greatly improving the landscape of Australian data and research.

Ultimately, this project will enable high quality, policy-relevant research on young people’s wellbeing and engagement during their schooling years by combining existing wellbeing and engagement data with demographic, attendance, and NAPLAN data. This will be significant to young people’s education outcomes, adult outcomes, and the future of Australia’s economy.

Key Resources

For more information, please read about the Wellbeing and Engagement Collection (WEC) and the Wellbeing and Engagement Census.

You can also view:

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