The Power of Excel Charts to Show Success

By Grant Fjermedal

Applies to
Microsoft Office Outlook 2003

Nick Hoda

Nick Hoda, a school psychologist-in-training at Mississippi State University, knows the power of using Microsoft® Office Excel to chart academic and behavioral changes. He’s seen his young elementary school clients light up when they look at a graph that shows how far they have come in overcoming behavioral and academic challenges.

Hoda was one of 10 healthcare professionals recognized in a Microsoft Corp.-sponsored competition to honor healthcare professionals making innovative use of the Microsoft Office family of products. The results were announced May 12 in San Antonio at TEPR 2003, the 19th annual Toward an Electronic Patient Record (TEPR) conference and exhibition.

Hoda makes nearly complete use of the Microsoft Office XP family of products from using Microsoft Office Outlook® for e-mail, Microsoft Office Word for creating his custom templated documents, to using Microsoft Office Excel to track client progress, to using Microsoft Office PowerPoint® to make presentations about his work with the young at psychology conferences.

Hoda, who recently received his Master' s Degree in school psychology and is working toward his PhD, is most excited about the way his clients, who range in age from four to 13, react to a visual representation of the progress they have made.

Charting success

Providing a recent example of the power of Excel to graphically show improvements, Hoda spoke of a nine-year-old student who had been removed from school for disruptive and aggressive behaviors toward teachers. Hoda and the school staff wanted to get the student back into the classroom as soon as possible. To do this they monitored the student' s behavior daily to determine when the student was ready to handle attending school for longer periods of time.

Testing found that the boy had a reading disability and other learning problems. Hoda worked with the school to collect data to measure the student' s academic and behavioral progress. Behavior ratings continued to be taken to provide data on his behavior and the improving trend of appropriate behavior was used to guide the increasing length of his school day. Academically, a curriculum-based measurement procedure was used to gauge the student' s progress toward increasing reading fluency. The student' s progress was shown visually on a daily graph to indicate the number of correct words read per minute.

" It' s very frustrating for kids when they can' t see the progress they are making," Hoda said. " A teacher' s assistant working with the student came to me and said that the student was getting frustrated if he didn' t make big improvements daily and that he didn' t understand the progress he was making. That' s when I took the results home, put them into Excel, and created a chart for the boy to look at. This made a big difference. Even when the boy was having a tough day, he could look and see that he was still far above where he had started."

Hoda created a graph showing the student' s classroom behavior progress, as well, something that added to what has so far been a happy ending. " With the behavioral graph I created, the student could see his day-to-day behavioral improvements in class," Hoda said. " These same graphs also helped demonstrate his progress to the school as well. He earned his way back into the classroom and showed significant academic improvements as well."

Seamless integration of Office demonstrated

Hoda gave a presentation about his work at a National Association of School Psychologists conference. In creating his presentation he made good use of the seamless integration between the Microsoft Office family of products.

" Creating my presentation I had several Word documents open – earlier papers I had written and case reports and such. I had Excel spreadsheets open with my research results, and I had Outlook open for e-mail references," Hoda said. " I could just copy and paste from all of these applications as I created a professional presentation in PowerPoint."

Hoda would like to find grant money to purchase handheld devices like the Tablet PC to streamline the process of observing student behavior in the classroom and report writing. While working on a grant document recently at his home in Starkville, Mississippi, a thunderstorm knocked out the power.

His work wasn' t lost because of the Document Recovery feature built into Microsoft Office programs. " My wife was worried that I' d lost all my work," Hoda said. " But I wasn' t worried. I knew that Document Recovery would save me. And it did."