e-AIR Newsletter March 2016

IR Summit: A National Commitment to Data

​Institutional research was featured on the national stage at the recent IR Summit in Washington, DC. On March 9, 2016, the Association for Institutional Research invited 70 postsecondary leaders from higher education organizations, presidential associations, government agencies, accrediting bodies, philanthropic groups, and others to join voices in promoting the field of IR. Thought leaders gathered to talk about the importance of data in higher education overall, and IR in support of student success specifically.

The IR Summit highlighted a future-orientated vision of IR that calls for broader support for all decision makers (including administrators, faculty, staff, and students), and strategic leadership for data and IR in the quest to promote student success. The foundation of this national conversation was the newly released Statement of Aspirational Practice for Institutional Research.

A shared commitment to data brought these organizations together. Central to the conversation was the necessity for IR to continue to evolve in order to support student success as one of its many roles in the higher education enterprise. A variety of perspectives were considered as part of the dialog about the opportunities and challenges institutions face when building IR and data capacity. MORE



Improving and Transforming IR in Postsecondary Education
By Gary R. Pike
2015-2016 AIR President

I begin the Board Corner for March, having just returned from the IR Summit in Washington D.C. Hosted by AIR, the IR Summit was a culminating activity in the Improving and Transforming Institutional Research in Postsecondary Education initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The project includes three deliverables:
(1) the National Survey of Institutional Research Offices, which provides baseline data on IR activities and use of data in postsecondary institutions; (2) the Statement of Aspirational Practice for Institutional Research, which highlights the need to increase IR capacity and serve a broader range of decision-makers in higher education; and (3) an Excellence in IR Capacity Survey, which is currently under development.

Today, the focus is on the Statement of Aspirational Practice for Institutional Research. I encourage you to read the statement and the full report, which are available on the AIR website

The Statement of Aspirational Practice is a great start, full of interesting and important ideas, and is a wonderful spur for discussion.

I am particularly interested in the emphasis placed on providing data and information to improve student success.

This is a discussion for the field, not just individual campuses. It is important, however, that individual campuses weigh in on this discussion, and the full report suggests a process for creating discussions on college campuses.
In reading the Statement of Aspirational Practice, it is important to realize that this is a starting point.

AIR looks forward to continued conversation with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Lumina Foundation, and other organizations (AASCU, APLU, AACC, etc.) about our shared commitment to driving improvement in institutional research, data-driven decision making, and student success.

The key is to read the Statement of Aspirational Practice, discuss it with your colleagues, and find opportunities to share and review it with decision-makers at your institution. MORE

Who's on the Move?
New titles. New promotions. New institutions. Friends and colleagues on the move.
The American Freshman
In the 50th anniversary Freshmen Survey report published by CIRP at HERI, UCLA, findings show that mental and emotional health issues are on the rise, as well as student activism. 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.
Effective Approaches for Presenting Data
Dear Craig, what are some effective approaches I can use when presenting data to faculty?

Our Office of institutional Research is called upon to make several presentations to faculty each year, whether it be a global setting, such as the faculty senate or new faculty orientation, or individual departments and colleges. Recently, borrowing from an AIR theme “We eat data for breakfast,” we have been inviting faculty to breakfast (yes, we provide it) and leading data presentations for those who attend. MORE

This month’s question is answered by Craig This, Interim Director of Institutional Research, Wright State University-Main Campus.
Making Sense of Student Loan Outcomes
Recently, the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) released a report, Making Sense of Student Loan Outcomes: How Using Repayment Rates Can Improve Student Success. The report examines the evolution of loan repayment rates and how such measures may prove useful – and for whom.

As many AIR members know, IHEP is a Washington, D.C.-based organization that has become one of the go-to places for information about postsecondary data collection. MORE
First Year Cohort Academic Success Visualizations
By Jessica Ickes, Director of Institutional Research, Lebanon Valley College

These visualizations were created to provide images that could quickly display student-success indicators by key-admissions variables. They are used for reference in admission-policy discussions, particularly around decisions and threshold setting in scholarship levels.

The bands for each admissions variable have been masked, and a few data elements have been perturbed. Additionally, data for specific cells is provided in our internal analysis, but is excluded from this example.  MORE


The Future of IR
Bob Daly is Assistant Vice Chancellor Emeritus, University of California-Riverside.

eAIR: “In The Future of IR” panel presentation at CAIR 2015, you suggest that the future of IR hinges on specializing in decision support. How is that different than what IR Professionals already do?

I've seen too many IR offices that operate like a reporting agency and focus IR analysis only on what has happened in the past. Decisions, however, are made about the future – specifically, about the expected outcomes of future events. Decision-makers do want background information and analysis because that helps them understand the issue at hand, as well as minimize the risks and costs of a decision.

However, decision-makers also want help in predicting possible ramifications of decisions they might make. For the future of IR, professionals should become active in helping to minimize the risks of a decision by providing insightful analysis about possible outcomes. MORE

Creating a Gauge Chart in Excel
​By Nathan Rush, Institutional Research Analyst, Wheaton College (MA)

Given all the talk on our campuses of “moving the needle” on one metric or another, a gauge or speedometer chart is a convenient way to simultaneously display several pieces of information.

A gauge chart created in Excel is actually a combination of two charts: a doughnut that displays the range of possible responses and a pie chart with one narrow segment as the needle that indicates a specific data point, such as a student response or a group average. MORE

Your Resource: IR in the Know
Developed each month for eAIR by a dedicated team of AIR volunteers, IR in the Know keeps you up to date on current and emerging issues related to higher education.

Since 2012, the member-written IR in the Know has featured brief write-ups related to data collection, analyses, and reporting, with links to more detailed information. IR in the Know is presented in three categories. MORE
Good Reads for the Higher Ed Professional
Keep current with the latest news from these influential journals:

- Innovative Higher Education
- New Directions for Institutional Research
- 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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