eAIR Newsletter December 2016

A Holistic Approach to Institutional Research:
A New Professional Development Opportunity from AIR

By Jason R. Lewis and Leah Ewing Ross

What does it mean to work as an institutional research professional?

When this question is raised, it is easy to begin listing tasks or projects most commonly performed in IR. For instance, IR professionals analyze data, respond to requests from institutional leaders, and fulfill mandatory reporting requirements. Based on conversations with AIR members, the AIR Executive Office is not alone in this challenge of succinctly describing the IR profession.

A profession is more than a collection of tasks performed. If asked what a nurse is, most people wouldn’t reply that a nurse takes patients’ temperatures and administers shots because those items do not capture the larger context of the profession. At the AIR Executive Office, we challenge ourselves to help ensure that the definition of our profession isn’t limited to a list of tasks.

It is from this line of inquiry that AIR built a new professional development opportunity: A Holistic Approach to Institutional Research. MORE
Collaborative Achievements in 2016
Glenn W. James, 2016-2017 AIR President
What a Year!

As 2016 draws to a close, I look back at the array of Association endeavors and activities, and I especially appreciate the AIR Executive Office staff, the Board of Directors, the Executive Director Search Committee, and the many AIR members, committees, and teams who have made the past year such a successful one. Collectively, this large, collegial group of committed IR staff, Association members, and other colleagues made extensive efforts and numerous contributions toward achieving the accomplishments of 2016.

Early in 2016, Jason Lewis accepted the responsibility of serving as Interim Executive Director and led the Executive Office team through quite a demanding year in AIR history. The leadership team of the Executive Office and the entire staff worked in collaboration with the Board of Directors and many Association members to address the operational tasks of the Association while also looking to the future.

A few of the notable events of 2016 were:

  • Collaborative AIR Summit in Washington, DC, in March

  • Successful AIR Forum in May/June in New Orleans

  • Relocation of the AIR Executive Office in Tallahassee in June

Despite the challenges and displacement associated with the lightning strike that caused fire damage at the office facility, the Executive Office staff were exemplary in working steadily to minimize disruption to AIR operations and services.

The Board of Directors continued the efforts to focus clearly upon the future of IR and of AIR, while staying abreast of current issues and context.

The Executive Director Search Committee developed a request for proposals, processed the proposals, and selected a search firm with which to launch the search, which is nearing the achievement of the goal of finding an excellent next Executive Director of the association.

The expertise of Ted Marchese of AGB Search was instrumental in the progress of the search. The search process moved forward steadily through the diligent work of Dr. Marchese and the entire search committee. Gina Johnson not only served as a member of the search committee but also worked with H.A. Scott and other AIR staff members in planning and executing logistical support regarding the series of meetings of the committee. MORE
Who's on the Move?
New titles. New promotions. New institutions. Friends and colleagues on the move.
Improving Connections to Student Aid
This paper, published by CLASP’s Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success, explores sub-associate credentialing programs, the fastest growing segment in postsecondary education. The author specifically looks at program costs and student struggles to find ways to finance their education, usually resulting in multiple funding sources that still leave unmet need. 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.
Stakeholder Communication Strategies: Survey Data
Dear Cinnamon: What are some strategies for communicating with stakeholders about survey data that fits their needs for producing reports and decision making?

When working on an institutional survey project, I always (1) operate under the assumption that survey data should be shared as widely as possible with those on campus who might find it useful and (2) consider stakeholder involvement in each step of the survey process rather than just at the end when producing reports. Taking a holistic approach is critical to making sure that the data you collect will be maximally useful to your stakeholders, and it is also helpful for getting stakeholders involved throughout the process, including with promoting the survey on campus to boost response rates. There are a few specific strategies that I find effective. MORE

This month’s question is answered by Cinnamon Danube, Principal Analyst, Institutional Research and Decision Support, University of California, Merced.
Data Bite
Over the past few months, we’ve explored the funding of the IR Office. This month, we’ll explore how funding might change for the next academic year.

Here we find approximately 16% of IR Offices expect their funding to increase for the next fiscal year while nearly the same percentage, 17%, expect their funding to be cut. These percentages are consistent across sectors. MORE

Make IPEDS Work for You
Braden J. Hosch is the Assistant Vice President for Institutional Research, Planning & Effectiveness at Stony Brook University. He has served as an IPEDS Educator for nine years.

Institutional research offices typically devote significant effort to extract, maintain, and summarize data to fulfill reporting requirements to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). In fact, there are times when IPEDS reporting consumes significant office resources and seems to distract from other pressing needs. The burden of IPEDS, however, decreases when we can get IPEDS to return value to us, and the various IPEDS tools do just that. They deliver value to campuses, especially for benchmarking and contextualizing our own data. MORE
Develop Interactive Factbooks with Digital Pass

AIR’s Digital Pass gives you access to video content for using Tableau to transition your factbook from a collection of static PDF reports to an interactive self-service reporting tool.

Using Data Visualization Software to Develop an Interactive Factbook
As the demand for institutional data increases, IR offices must find new and innovative ways to deliver complex information to diverse audiences. This session focuses on the presenter’s experience using Tableau to transition a factbook from a collection of static PDF reports to an interactive self-service reporting tool with dynamic tables and engaging visualizations. The presenter discusses the benefits of developing an interactive factbook, and how to leverage growing institutional interest in analytics and data literacy to gain executive sponsorship for such a project. Presenter: Christopher Pena, University of Denver

Impacting Student Success: A Non-Traditional IR Role
Corey Wrinn is Director of Institutional Research at Choate Rosemary Hall.

eAIR: Tell us more about your role as an IR director in a secondary school setting.

So far, my role at Choate Rosemary Hall has been part facilitator, part analyst, and part teacher. I’ve spent time introducing the concept of institutional research to my colleagues and providing examples of my work to show how I can help their department. There are a number of untapped data sources and there is a desire to dig into what we already have regarding student course loads, campus climate, and the student experience. I like to say we’re trying to become more “data informed."

The work my office is doing at Choate is brand new to the institution and has been a welcome development for many on campus. Like most institutions, Choate has been collecting application, enrollment, and alumni data for years, but didn’t have the opportunity to dig into it to provide a resource for the community. MORE
Community Building Capacity of Social Media
Are you part of the #IRWaterCooler? Are you in the know about #HiEdData? If you attended the recent #NEAIR16 annual conference in Baltimore, Maryland, you may have been introduced to these hashtags as a way to connect with IR professionals (#IRWaterCooler) and others interested in broader topics related to higher education data and information (#HiEdData).

These Twitter hashtags and other social media tools, such as LinkedIn groups and Facebook pages, have allowed the Social Media Team that is part of the NEAIR Membership Committee intentionally draw people together for knowledge sharing, networking, and community building. MORE

Presenting Predictive Models to Advisers
By Iryna Johnson, Associate Director for Analytics, Institutional Research, Auburn University

This visual display is an interactive tool, implemented at Auburn to help advisers understand factors that put a student at risk of departure or low first semester GPA. Entering a student’s ID triggers populating the tool with student official data, responses from the Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement (BCSSE), and predicted first semester GPA and the probability of returning next fall. First semester GPA and the probability of return are calculated based on predictive models hidden behind the tool. MORE
Random Samples in Excel Using the RAND Function
By Angela Henderson, Director of Institutional Research and Effectiveness, Stetson University
This tip provides two methods for selecting a simple random sample from an Excel data file using the RAND() function. This tip is particularly helpful if you need to determine survey or research samples from student, staff, or faculty populations. Two simple ways to accomplish this goal based on an example scenario are provided below. MORE

Good Reads for the Higher Ed Professional
Keep current with the latest news from these influential journals:

- Research in Higher Education
- Journal of the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition
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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