e-AIR Newsletter March 2018

Enhancing Data Policy and Analytics to Improve Student Outcomes

AIR, ACE & IHEP logosBy Christine Keller, AIR Executive Director and CEO

On March 13th, AIR partnered with the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) and the American Council on Education (ACE) to host Leadership in Enhancing Postsecondary Data Policy and Analytics to Improve Student Outcomes. This half-day summit brought together institutional leaders and policy influencers to discuss the state of postsecondary data, methods for integrating data use across institutions, and ways to collaborate on federal and state policy opportunities. The dialogue among professionals with institutional perspectives and those with a policy focus was productive and insightful.

Highlights from the conversation include the following:
The growth of data and analytic tools have tremendous potential to transform institutions, improve student outcomes, and close achievement gaps. However, data, analytics, and technology are not enough. To fully unlock their potential for the benefit of students, we need the commitment of leaders, the insights of IR, the skills of IT, and federal and state policies that support and reinforce institutional priorities. MORE
Collaboration. It’s Magically Delicious!
Ellen Peters
AIR President
Ellen Peters
Collaboration. It’s what’s for dinner. Well, maybe it’s not edible, but it is necessary for IR and our institutions to be strong and healthy.

While that’s not news to many of us working in IR, it was reinforced during the joint AIR, EDUCAUSE, and NACUBO Enterprise IT Summit 2018 that was attended by four Board members as well as numerous institutional researchers from across the country.

This was the first time that these three organizations have partnered together to share the ways in which we are mutually dependent on one another to serve our institutions.

One particularly salient presentation focused on the importance of building trust – and acknowledged that a first attempt at a Data Governance Committee didn’t go over well, as it lacked a clear focus and roles for each member of the committee. A revised structure that leveraged committees already in existence was much more successful. This new structure was developed by IR and IT working together to identify both the focus of the work, the right players, and the important contribution of each person at the table in ensuring strong data governance. Trust was built as the IR/IT partnership acknowledged that their first attempt wasn’t working, and valued their colleagues’ time enough to rethink the structure, and to be clear about the ultimate purpose of the work.

But data governance isn’t the only reason for collaboration – be it with IT or other areas at our institution. Other presentations shared projects around facilities management and around maximizing classroom space both in person and online. The collaboration between IR and other offices affords IR an awareness of the concerns that those offices face and positions IR to apply our expertise to assist them in finding solutions.

The Summit reinforced the importance of multiple perspectives in our approach to our work in higher education – not just for IR, but across our institutions. And as I reflected on that, it struck me that our Board may have limited perspectives, which might hamper our ability to ensure that IR is valuable across higher education. How can we be sure that IR is serving well if we don’t hear the voices of those who we are serving?

This year, we’ve worked to gather the voice of the membership through listening sessions at affiliate organizations across the country, and we are eager to learn the results of the subsequent qualitative analysis. Perhaps our next step is to gather the voices of consumers of institutional research as well as those upon whom IR depends.

Collaboration takes on many flavors, and keeps the work interesting and nutritious. Bon appétit! MORE
Federal Education Data Collection: Celebrating 150 Years
What began as a simple data collection by the DOE has evolved over the past 150 years into the data collection carried out today by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)… MORE.
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
Data Governance Council: Guiding Principles
Liz headshot
Dear Liz: My institution is setting up a data governance framework, but we are unsure where to start. I understand Massachusetts Maritime Academy is doing this as well. What guiding principles did your data governance council decide to focus on and why?

We first focused on getting stakeholder buy-in. The success of our data governance project is dependent on many inter-departmental resources, and we needed to motivate our staff to see the benefits of such an initiative. We first invited an Ellucian trainer to speak to our staff and hold departmental focus groups. This allowed staff to discuss their current data climate in a safe environment, learn how data changes made across campus affect other departments, and most importantly, get motivated about the initiative. MORE

This month’s question is answered by Liz Novak, Director of Enterprise Systems, Massachusetts Maritime Academy.

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Data Bite
How do you spend your days in the IR Office? We asked participants of the National Survey of IR Offices to report how the Director of the IR Office and other IR professional staff (e.g., analysts, technical staff, etc.) spend their time. We found that for both role types, data collection and management of those data occupied the largest segment of their time, followed closely by analyzing those data and disseminating results. On average, staff spent about two hours per week on professional development activities. MORE

Chart: Avg. Hours Spent per Week by IR Office Role
Collaboration in Support of Student Success
JanBy Leah Ewing Ross, AIR Senior Director for Research & Initiatives and Gina Johnson, AIR Assistant Executive Director for Partnerships & Membership.

AIR is pleased to collaborate with other higher education organizations to reach a wider audience of professionals working in fields related to data-informed decision making. These partnerships allow AIR to share its work and learn from others to help ensure student success through data, information, and analysis for decision support. Following are descriptions of two current collaborations.

At its recent annual meeting, the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH) hosted a workshop entitled Igniting PHIRE: Building Capacity for Public Health Institutional Research and Effectiveness facilitated by Christine Plepys, Emily Burke, and AIR’s Leah Ewing Ross. Participants focused on forming cohesive strategies in the collection, analysis, interpretation, and communication of data based on AIR’s future-focused work for the field, including the Statement of Aspirational Practice for IR (2016), Data-Informed Decision Cultures (2017), and A New Vision for IR (Change, 2016). MORE
Supplemental Instruction Survey Report
By Katherine McGuire and Riley Swab, Office of Institutional Research, Oxford College of Emory University

600e00ab-a637-439e-ad7c-9eeadc4556d0.pngSupplemental Instruction (SI) is outside-of-class study sessions facilitated by student peers to enhance learning in traditionally difficult gateway courses, such as first-year math, science, logic, or statistical methods. Oxford conducts a survey of students in courses with an SI component each semester to assess the effectiveness of the instruction as well as the individual student peer SI leaders. MORE
Variable/Value Labels: SPSS Syntax with Excel
By Becky Bell, Assistant Director for Institutional Research, Howard Community College

Excel Logo Including labels in data sets for both the variables and their values is often extremely important so that others can understand and correctly interpret the data as well as for producing easy-to-read infographics. However, writing out all the labels can be a lengthy task, especially for a large file or one with many value labels. For files that have a required or predetermined file structure and value codes already typed out and available in some type of file or webpage, such as state mandated student record files, national initiative data submissions or even a survey response data file, using Excel can speed up the creation of SPSS syntax (or potentially other programs) to add labels to the data file. MORE
Good Reads for the Higher Ed Professional
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- Innovative Higher Education

- Research in Higher Education
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