Data Culture Toolkit: Barriers to Data Use

Common Barriers to Data Use

The common barriers to establishing a culture of data use fall into three categories: cultural, political, and technical. Understanding these barriers is the first step in identifying solutions to support your building a data use culture. After reviewing the barriers, use the fillable worksheet to document your barriers to data use and to support team discussion.

Cultural. Individual or group culture bias exerts a strong influence on how people make decisions and what information they find meaningful. Cultural barriers are often unintentional and unrecognized, but they can be the most pervasive. Some cultural beliefs result in using personal judgment and basing decisions solely on intuition, experience, or anecdotal information rather than using a systematic process and basing decisions on data.

Political. Data use is sometimes politically motivated, which may lead to mistrust and avoidance of data. When data are used solely to justify an established course of action rather than to improve, stakeholders may construe the data use as politically motivated, not motivated by an authentic desire to examine systems and processes objectively and strive for continuous improvement. In addition, when data are collected as part of a monitoring process that includes punitive measures or consequences, stakeholders may be less likely to report nonrequired data in future reports.

Technical. Technical realities, including the availability of measurement tools, time, and expertise, present barriers to data use. Often the data that providers or teachers identify as the most valuable are the most difficult to measure. When the data are available, there may be a lack of dedicated time to collect and analyze data or a lack of expertise or available staff to assist in this process.

Using this Infographic to Support Your Efforts

The following two resources are intended for facilitators/planners to use when exploring and documenting barriers to their data use and potential strategies to address those barriers.

  1. Talking Points: Barriers to Data Use – Facilitators can use the talking points list below to review common barriers with the state or local data teams and to discuss barriers in their state or local program.
  2. Identifying and Addressing Barriers to Data Use Worksheet – This worksheet is for recording, categorizing, and rank ordering data use barriers in the state or local program and brainstorming resolutions to them.

Barriers to Data Use Worksheet

Download Barriers for Data Use Infographic or a text-only version.

Published August 2017.