e-AIR Newsletter April 2016

A Portrait of Institutional Research Offices

​The National Survey of Institutional Research Offices summary report is now available.

This study was the first extensive survey of the field of IR in more than eight years. The findings provide a snapshot of IR offices and their available resources, capacities, and current work levels. The 251-question survey is the first iteration of a long-term strategy to gather information about the field. The vision is to develop a benchmarking initiative that will be instrumental in helping shape the role of IR in the changing higher education landscape.

The survey was constructed with significant work of AIR members who provided ideas at the outset of the project and whose contributions included service as subject matter experts, peer reviewers, and pilot testers. MORE
AIR Election 2016
By Gary R. Pike
2015-2016 AIR President
It’s an election year, and we’ve all been bombarded by presidential debates, campaign commercials, and election-night news. In an earlier life, I worked in politics, but even I’m getting a little tired of it. However, there is one election in which AIR members can take pride—the 2016 AIR election.

First and foremost, I want to thank you all for voting and to encourage all of you to vote in 2017 when I am chairing the Nominations and Elections Committee (NEC). I also want to thank Immediate Past President Gayle Fink and the 2016 NEC for assembling a tremendous slate of candidates, and thank you to all of the candidates for agreeing to run.

AIR members elected seven people who have tremendous leadership experience and skills, and the Association will be in excellent hands as it helps chart a course for our profession. I am pleased to introduce your incoming Board and NEC members.

Vice President:

•  C. Ellen Peters is the Director of Institutional Research and Retention at the University of Puget Sound and the incoming Vice President of AIR. Ellen is a past member of the AIR Board of Directors and served as Board Secretary. She is even a veteran politician, having been elected to her city council. I had the privilege of serving with Ellen when I was Vice President. AIR is in very capable hands.

Three new Board at Large members:

•  Timothy Chow is the Director of Institutional Research at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Timothy has also served on the AIR Board of Directors. I remember when Timothy served as the Secretary and chair of the External Relations Committee. (We were both very young back then.) Seriously, Timothy will be a tremendous asset as a Board member.

•  Sara Gravitt is the Director of Institutional Research at Wake Forest University. Sara has held numerous leadership positions in the Southern Association for Institutional Research (SAIR), including Secretary, Vice President, President, and Immediate Past President. MORE
Who's on the Move?
New titles. New promotions. New institutions. Friends and colleagues on the move.
Snapshot 20: National Success and Progress Rates
The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center recently released a Snapshot Report that measures postsecondary attainment by tracking the fall 2009 entering cohort over time. The Snapshot Report provides national benchmarks for institutions participating in the Student Achievement Measure (SAM) for the first time. MORE.

Thanks to AIR Members
Our members are not only incredibly helpful, they are a pleasure to work with. Here are some special thanks to those who have gone beyond the call of duty for our Association.
Staying on Track with Technical and Professional Skills
Gary, I am so busy with day-to-day duties that, unfortunately, I have not done a very good job of keeping up-to-date with my technical and professional skills. What strategies can you recommend to IR professionals who need to get back on track?

Working in an institutional research office means you will always face a barrage of information requests, survey deadlines, and the need to conduct complex data analysis on a variety of subjects. What often happens is that we elect to work on projects instead of keeping our professional and technical skills current. My first boss in institutional research, Roseann Hogan, gave all her employees a terrific piece of advice that I try to follow: Friday afternoons should be reserved for professional development. As difficult as it may be, set aside a small time period on a regular basis for professional or personal development projects. MORE

This month’s question is answered by Gary Lowe, Principal Analyst, Institutional Planning & Analysis, University of California-Merced.
Practical Applications: Statement of Aspirational Practice for Institutional Research
By Sandi Bramblett, Georgia Institute of Technology

A mentor once told me that higher education as an industry can be described as “intensely political, yet oddly personal.” Cultivating and nurturing relationships across the institution is the most effective tool at an institutional researcher’s disposal.

This is why we can embrace the Statement of Aspirational Practice for Institutional Research. It makes institutional research a team sport in which the practitioners are coaches. Our responsibility lies in ensuring we share our knowledge and expertise with others at the institution. Everyone wants to see students succeed, and what better place to put the statement to work than to tie it to student success! MORE
PSU: Online Course Enrollment and Grades
By Dai Li, Director of Institutional Research and Planning, Pittsburg State University

When Pittsburg State University surveyed stakeholders for their feedback regarding a new strategic plan, online education emerged as a most discussed topic.

One concern is that increased online education will drive the university away from its traditional value of hands-on learning, which remains appealing to many enrolled and prospective students. Additionally, faculty is also concerned about student learning outcome through online education, especially for freshmen and sophomores. MORE

Personalized Outreach: Affecting Behavioral Change
Ben Castleman is Assistant Professor of Education and Public Policy at the University of Virginia (UVA). He is also the Faculty Director of the University of Virginia-U.S. Army Partnership on the Educational Trajectories of Soldiers and their Dependents. He will present Data-driven behavioral nudges: A low-cost strategy to improve postsecondary education at the 2016 Forum.

eAIR: Without giving too much away about your new book, The 160-Character Solution: How Text Messages and Other Behavioral Strategies Can Improve Education, what are some ways that IR professionals can use behavioral economics to positively impact student success on their campuses?

In behavioral work, the use of text messaging has received a lot of attention in the media; however, the role that data plays in IR professionals making messages effective has not. What we know is that people are more responsive to information when it is easily digestible, actionable, and personalized. IR professionals have access to a lot of data about what students are doing, e.g., registering for financial aid, registering for the spring term, etc. MORE

SPSS: Using LAG to Identify/Remove Duplicates
Seeing as most of the eAIR Tech Tips are related to the usage of Excel, I thought I’d take a different path with this tip.  Mastery of SPSS syntax has long been a personal goal of mine because of the inherent analytical possibilities.

Using SPSS syntax allows for customization of an analysis, the ability to document a process, and consistency in output.  This tip utilizes the SPSS LAG function to assist in the identification and removal of duplicates in a data set.  I like this approach because I can insert it into any of my SPSS syntax to assist with duplicate identification. MORE
IR Summit Videos Available
Last month, AIR convened leaders from the higher education community to discuss the importance of data in decision making. The event showcased examples of how data are being used by faculty, staff, administrators, and higher education organizations to support and improve the postsecondary education enterprise.

The video recordings of the event are now available. Viewers are encouraged to use the ideas shared at the summit to foster dialogue about the opportunities and challenges institutions face when building IR and data capacity. MORE
Good Reads for the Higher Ed Professional
Keep current with the latest news from these influential journals:

- Innovative Higher Education
- Research in Higher Education
Announcements for conferences, meetings, institutes, symposiums, and other events of interest. See the LISTINGS.

Keeping AIR Members Informed
AIR welcomes brief announcements of interest to the IR and assessment communities, such as the release of a report, funding opportunities or a request for applications. Send your announcement to eAIR@airweb.org and include a link to your website as well as a contact name and email address. Announcements
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