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SED alum creates new technology for school counselors

In working on his doctoral dissertation on the role of technology in professional development, recent School of Education graduate Timothy Poynton (SED’05) found that school counselors needed to develop their skills in using data. His review of existing data analysis software programs, however, revealed none that were both affordable and easy to use. So he decided to create his own.

EZAnalyze is now gaining in popularity among school counselors around the country. Designed to enhance the capabilities of Microsoft Excel by adding point-and-click functions for analyzing data and creating graphs, Poynton’s program is available for free download thanks to $2,000 he received from the SED Dean’s Office.

“Given my interest in technology, I decided to evaluate its impact on the effectiveness of professional development,” he says. “The goal was to assess the value-added benefit.”

Since most school counselors already have Excel on their computers, Poynton developed EZAnalyze as an add-in that simplifies data analysis in Excel. By varying the degree to which participants were exposed to conceptual knowledge about how to evaluate school counseling programs and how to use EZAnalyze, for his dissertation he used the software to evaluate the efficiency of four slightly different ways of training school counselors how to use data. Two groups were provided differing levels of exposure to conceptual knowledge with explicit hands-on training in how to use EZAnalyze, one group was provided with the conceptual knowledge and the EZAnalyze software without hands-on practice, and the last group was provided only with the conceptual knowledge training.

Poynton’s research — and the program he developed — is already having an effect on schools. Professional school counselors in Rhode Island are using EZAnalyze as they implement data-driven school counseling programs, according to Belinda J. Wilkerson, a counselor-in-residence for the R.I. School Counseling Project. “He has forever changed the way professional school counselors in Rhode Island look at data,” she says.

Poynton is now the school counseling program director at Suffolk University. The software, along with supporting documentation, is available for free download at www.ezanalyze.com.