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From Basketball to Writing, Analytics Help Coaches

John Calipari, University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball Coach (via Flirkr user Keith Allison)

John Calipari, University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball Coach (via Flickr user Keith Allison)

If your classroom puts students in collaborative teams to work on projects, you have something in common with the head coach of the University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball Coach.

John Calipari has an interesting problem this basketball season. The head coach found himself with too much talent – ten elite players – and not enough minutes to go around. So he decided to make some changes to the way his team plays. He would “platoon” – playing more players for less time. But when this happens, it turns out the old ways of evaluating players – points, rebounds, and steals – just isn’t really fair any more. You can’t compare the stat totals for a player who is on the court for 17 minutes alongside someone who plays 36 minutes.

Teachers often have the same problem when students work together in teams. They each do important things, but they contribute to a project in different ways. So how is a teacher to know who’s learning? who’s struggling and who’s performing well?

By looking at different indicators. In fact, Calipari hired a whole new position, a Director of Basketball Analytics whose job is “analyzing player and team performance, utilizing various stats and data to help develop efficient strategies through video.”

Why? Here’s Calipari:

“If you’re playing [only] 20 minutes, what will your NCAA stats look like?” Calipari said. “Terrible for NCAA stats. So we’re going to have big data stats, per-minute and efficiency stats that we can send to NBA teams.”

He’s using these new methods not just to win games, but to create more accurate evaluations of what his players can do. While an NCAA head coach’s job depends on winning basketball games, if you ask them what they do day-to-day they will tell you they teach the game. Even in a high-ranking program like Kentucky, the players are learning to play and, more importantly, learning how to play as a team. Calipari wants his players to learn and he wants the evidence to show what they can do, even if they aren’t playing the kind of minutes other players may get on other teams.

Few of us can afford to hire a Director of Analytics for our own classrooms. But Eli Review’s course and review analytics do a lot of the same things for writing teachers that Calipari is hoping to see from his new video analysis. Eli shows when and how students are making progress, allowing you to track learning and adjust your intervention accordingly. It is powerful data for any classroom, but it is especially valuable when your students are working together in team settings.


From Basketball to Writing, Analytics Help Coaches was published to the Eli Review Blog in the category Uncategorized.

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