e-AIR Newsletter February 2016

A New Vision for Institutional Research

By Leah Ewing Ross, Consultant, Association for Institutional Research

This month, AIR will release the Statement of Aspirational Practice for Institutional Research.


The Statement of Aspirational Practice for Institutional Research establishes a future-oriented vision of high-quality institutional research practices centered on student success. It is a response to myriad disruptive innovations in higher education, including new technologies, new business structures, and new data, all of which increase capacity for information that supports decision making. The new vision for IR presented in the aspirational statement stems from changes in the field—that is, more people have access to the tools and data that used to reside solely in the IR office. In addition, growing numbers of stakeholders are broadly engaged in the use of data and information to make decisions on tactical, operational, and strategic levels. MORE

Fifty years ago, the Association for Institutional Research was incorporated as a non-profit organization. Over the last half century, the Association has experienced tremendous growth, and the future looks even brighter. Today, AIR is the premier source of IR education and professional development, and is a respected voice for its leadership in institutional research and data policy issues. MORE

My AIR Story
We invite you to read stories from AIR members reflecting the impact that AIR has had on their professional career, as well as stories about specific experiences shared with AIR colleagues and friends. MORE
AIR History Page
In celebration of AIR’s 50th anniversary, an AIR History page was created to highlight documents, manuscripts, books, and pictures that have been collected by members throughout the years to help build a shared history for current and future members of the association. We hope you will enjoy these AIR memories. MORE
Time Capsule
A digital time capsule is in development to highlight the contributions our members have made to their institutions, the field of IR, and higher education over the years. The time capsule is intended to be a snapshot of the various types of work AIR members produce. Look for an announcement on Friday, February 12 when the time capsule is ready for viewing.
AIR’s First 50 Years
By Gary R. Pike
2015-2016 AIR President
When I was asked to write a Board Corner about AIR’s 50th anniversary, I realized I needed to do some homework.

At other times, I had read both of Joe Saupe’s monographs on (The) Functions of IR (1st & 2nd editions).
For this assignment, I reviewed two other documents: The Nature and Role of Institutional Research, written by Joe Saupe and Jim Montgomery, and The Association for Institutional Research: The First 50 Years, edited by Gary Rice and co-edited by Mary Ann Coughlin and Rich Howard.

All of these documents are available on the AIR website, and I encourage you to read them.

In reading through the manuscripts, I was struck by how much things have changed in 50 years. I think the characterization of the history of AIR in terms of phases of human development (e.g., early childhood, adolescence, early adulthood, and maturity) is particularly appropriate.

Over the 50-year history of the Association, the issues confronting institutional researchers have changed, as have the tools available to us. I’ve been in institutional research for half of its history.

When I started at the University of Tennessee Knoxville in 1986, assessment of student learning outcomes was just beginning to take hold.

I also remember walking to the computer center to run statistical analyses on 11 ×17 green bar paper. I didn’t have to walk miles through the snow, uphill both ways; I did, however, get to experiment with a newfangled electronic communication medium called “Bitnet.”

Today, assessment has evolved into institutional effectiveness and is a staple of many institutional research offices; we have statistical packages and other sophisticated data visualization tools at our fingertips; and the internet has become an indispensable part of our lives. MORE
Thanks to AIR Members
Here are some special thanks to those who have gone beyond the call of duty for our Association.
Findings from a National Study of IR Work Tasks: A Focus on Senior IR/IE Leaders
What tasks are common in the work of senior institutional research (IR) leaders? How do tasks differ by IR office size?

As part of the effort to document the current state of IR, AIR sought to identify the tasks involved in the work of IR across all titles and variations represented in its membership. Position descriptions and announcements for vacant positions—contributed by AIR members—were used to create a draft typology of IR work tasks. A survey of AIR members determined the relevance of the tasks and the frequency with which the tasks are done and by whom.

The first in-depth exploration of the vast and rich data from this study is featured in the newly released report Defining Institutional Research: Findings from a National Study of IR Work Tasks—A Focus on Senior IR/IE Leaders. MORE
Latest Issues in Higher Education
Since 2012, the member-written IR in the Know feature has provided summaries of current and emerging issues related to higher education data collection, analyses, and reporting. MORE
Who's on the Move?
If there is one thing you can count on in higher education, it is change. Over the years, AIR members, our colleagues, and friends have informed us about promotions, new jobs, awards, and retirements. MORE

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