eAIR Newsletter August 2017

Impact Your Training with AIR’s Digital Pass

Playbutton AIR’s Digital Pass brings a wealth of learning opportunities right to your desktop. Each year, the AIR Forum is filled with educational sessions that highlight the training needs of professionals working in institutional research, assessment, planning, and related postsecondary education fields.

The concurrent sessions recorded in the Digital Pass are some of the highest rated sessions on topics that help you fulfill the duties and functions of your job, and help you grow professionally. Also recorded were the Keynote, Plenaries, and several Impact Sessions from the 2017 Forum.

Forum Impact Sessions focused on a wide range of emerging and important topics and issues with impact for everyone in higher education fields. AIR members can view three of these sessions as part of the Digital Pass. MORE
Decisions, Decisions
Ellen Peters
2017-2018 AIR President
I am reading Practice for Life, by Lee Cuba, Nancy Jennings, Suzanne Lovett, and Joe Swingle. Their book is the result of 10 years of research around student decision making in college.

One of their findings is that we tend to emphasize the big decisions – majors, study abroad, internships, holding a job while in college – and overlook the impact of the “smaller decisions” that provide opportunity for “restarts” in college, like finding a new friend group or seeking assistance from others. Do we see these decisions as opportunities or obstacles? These smaller decisions provide practice for life beyond college – like finding a mentor or making new friends as careers change or grow.

In reading it, I’ve been thinking about both the “big” and the “small” decisions AIR has been making. We embarked on a big decision eight years ago when we moved to a Policy Governance model. It was a huge restart, and it has taken some time to adjust, not only for Association members, but also for the Board and staff. Like many things, in theory, it seems simple and straightforward, but in practice, it’s a bit messy, and now, we are finding that it’s those small decisions in how we continue to refine our implementation of Policy Governance that provide meaningful opportunities.

The 2017-2018 Board has just completed an in-depth, all-day training on Policy Governance – it was my fifth time and still, there is much to learn. One thing that Policy Governance requires is clarity of our expectations and intentions in the form of our Policies. I know that policy work sounds terribly boring, but the Board has authority to modify and rewrite the policies to ensure that AIR is well managed, and that the policies serve as a foundation to advance the profession.

The core of this is our Ends policy, which is on the last page of the Policies, and is available through the website. It’s short, and I hope you will read it. It lays out the purpose of AIR and answers the question: Who and what will be different because AIR exists?

It is this responsibility that the Board has to you, the members, and that has led us to begin holding listening sessions with members throughout the fall. Like any good research, we have begun with some pilot sessions to develop a workable process, and we are thankful to TENNAIR... MORE
Who's on the Move?
New titles. New promotions. New institutions. Friends and colleagues on the move.
Boundaries Between Colleges and Companies Continue to Blur
Employer interest continues to grow in offering education benefits aligned with the work of their employees. As a result, employers are collaborating with higher education institutions to increase the skillsets and education levels of their workforce... MORE.
AIR and AOs: Partnering Like Never Before
Beginning with the 2016-2017 AIR membership year, the AIR Executive Office (EO) began making an intentional effort to enhance collaborations with its affiliated organizations (AOs).

AIR has long partnered with its AOs in many ways, including Forum offerings such as travel grants, best presentation featured sessions, and meeting space for AO meetings.AIR also helps connect affiliated leadership with each other for networking and features AO events and news in eAIR and on airweb.org. MORE
Using Mixed Methods Research Designs
Dear Felice, I am now in charge of several IR projects in our office, and I would like to apply mixed methods research designs to these projects. Can you offer some guidance on how to get started and ways to make them more successful?

Mixed methods research designs are a wonderful way to obtain a comprehensive perspective on a research problem. As Creswell (2013) notes, a mixed methods approach is where the researcher collects, analyzes, and integrates both quantitative and qualitative data in a single study, or in multiple studies, in a sustained program of inquiry.

For institutional researchers, the combination of these data make research findings more relatable, understandable, and actionable for decision-makers. There are several ways to apply the mixed methods paradigm to applied and longitudinal research projects, and it is relatively easy to get started. MORE

This month’s question is answered by Felice Billups, Professor, Educational Leadership Doctoral Program and Research Fellow, Center for Research & Evaluation, Johnson & Wales University.
Data Bite
The Statement of Aspirational Practice for Institutional Research calls for intentional building and support of the institutional research function—the collection of data users and producers across an institution. One unit that uses and produces data is the Student Financial Aid office.

In the National Survey of IR Offices, participants were asked a series of questions regarding student financial aid. MORE


Six Weeks and Two Days of Exploring, Sharing, and Connecting
In May of 2017, AIR launched its newest professional development opportunity, a hybrid course featuring online and face-to-face content. The following reflection is based on a compilation of feedback from course participants:

As I craft this reflection, I am sitting in a meeting room at the Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel with nearly 80 people. I am at AIR’s new course, A Holistic Approach to Institutional Research, surrounded by colleagues from every sector of higher education who work in a wide variety of roles, from entry-level IR professionals to senior administrators, and everything in between. We are discussing what it means to work in IR and how we can best serve the missions of our institutions. This in-person seminar is the culminating experience of a six-week online course, and a light has come on for me—I finally understand what it means to be an IR professional. I have learned a lot, refreshed my understanding of ideas and concepts, and garnered new perspectives on familiar topics. MORE
CSU Cluster Analysis: Geocoded Data in Tableau
By Michael Le, Research Associate, Humboldt State University

Educating 474,600 students in 2016, the California State University (CSU) system is the nation’s largest four-year public university system with 23 campuses. Humboldt State University (HSU) is the Northern most campus. With a distance of 233 miles to the nearest sister campus, HSU is the most remote campus.

Over 90% of new students in 2016 came from outside the local service area. HSU’s incoming class came from over 2,000 different California high schools and community colleges. MORE

Building an Excel Form or Survey
By Terry McCamish, Accountability Data Analyst, Technical College System of Georgia

Often, as institutional researchers, we need to gather data from users. A simple and quick way to do this is by using Excel Online. A free Microsoft account gives you access to the online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, Mail, People, Calendar, Sway, and Docs.com.

The free account comes with 5GB of storage online. I have had my account for years and have not reached the storage limit yet. 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
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.
Announcements for AO and IR community conferences, meetings, institutes, and symposiums. 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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