e-AIR Newsletter May 2018

Changing the Future of Big Data: Examining and Modifying Algorithms

Cathy O'Neil HeadshoteAIR recently spoke with Cathy O'Neil, closing keynote speaker for the 2018 AIR Forum in Orlando, Florida. Cathy is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Weapons of Math Destruction.

eAIR: Part 2 of the title of your book, Weapons of Math Destruction, is How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy. With Big Data becoming so important to higher education, especially to IR practitioners, how can these professionals avoid the “Dark Side” of Big Data?

The short answer is, we have to put the science into data science. Specifically, we have to anticipate what might go wrong with our models and set up tests beforehand and ongoing monitors once an algorithm is deployed to measure whether something bad is happening, whether that is bias, discrimination, unfairness, or simply inaccuracy or inconsistency.

eAIR: In your Bloomberg View article, “Congress Is Missing the Point on Facebook,” you assert that what America really needs is a data bill of rights. How can data professionals advocate for ethical collection and use of data and analytics?

If they are empowered to, they should supply the targets of their algorithms with basic information about what data is being used, how it’s being interpreted, and how their score (if it’s a scoring system, which it usually is) could get better. Note that I am only advocating this for powerful and influential scoring systems that could ruin someone’s life - or at least have an actual negative impact on it - if their score is calculated in an unfair way. MORE
With Thanks...
Ellen Peters
AIR President
Ellen Peters
The 2017-18 AIR Board will conclude our work at the Forum later this month, and as we reflect on our work of the past 12 months, we owe you, the members, our thanks.

With a commitment to collaboration, we set the Board agenda for the year with a focus on being well informed about members’ needs based on their sense of the future of the profession.

This gathering of the voice of members is one of the most important responsibilities of the Board, and we are thankful that the work of previous boards set a strong foundation for us to turn our attention to input and feedback from a wide variety of stakeholders in institutional research.

In concert with the Executive Office, we held 13 listening sessions at affiliated organizations (AOs) and other conferences across the country throughout the fall and early spring, asking about changes and trends, skills and training, and raising the profile of IR.

While a final report is not yet complete, some emerging themes are data, outcomes, the evolution of the profession, technology, funding, leadership, pipeline and training, and communication. We hope to be able to share preliminary results at the Forum, with a final report to be shared in June.

While it is interesting to hear the thinking about our profession, it is incumbent upon us to act on that input. This year, the Board made the IR Future Committee a standing committee, with a required report at every Board meeting.

This committee is charged with ensuring that the Board understands the broad context in which institutional researchers work, and how this context is evolving. The results of the listening sessions will inform the IR Future Committee as well.

I am proud of our work this year, and must thank the AIR staff for their support of the Board as well as the work they do day in and day out for the membership. MORE
NCES Releases 2015-16 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:16) Data
NCES released data from the 2015–16 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:16), a comprehensive nationally representative survey of student financing of postsecondary education in the United States... 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
Announcements for AO and IR community conferences, meetings, institutes, and symposiums. See the LISTINGS.
IR Professionals as Publishers: Benefits and Opportunities
Gloria, Forrest, Kristina and Leah
Dear Gloria, Forrest, Kristina and Leah: I’m an IR professional, not a faculty member. Why should I consider publishing?

Institutional researchers should absolutely consider publishing! There are several professional and personal benefits to finding spaces to share your work. For one, publishing is a great way to share your knowledge with the broader IR and higher education community. There is tremendous value to sharing what you have learned about your institution/students.

Publishing can also be a useful way to share the good work that your office and institution are doing and can provide an opportunity to develop your team and build the research capacity within your IR office. For some projects that institutional researchers work on, there are few publications to draw upon. Thus, publishing allows us to contribute to the field and help others on similar projects who can benefit from the previous experiences of other IR professionals.

On a personal level, publishing can be a meaningful and rewarding activity in that it can provide an opportunity for you to address and help respond to critical issues in support of student success. MORE

Learn, Connect, Share AIR Forum ad

2018 Enterprise IT Summit Webinar

Data Bite
Gaining access to data can be challenging for some IR Offices; especially Human Resources (HR) salary data. During the 2015 National Survey of IR Offices, we learned that, on average, 42% of IR Offices had unrestricted access to salary data and 34% had no or very limited access.

However, when the IR Office supports the HR Office in some capacity (e.g., providing data/analyses/information or providing coaching), we find that their access to salary data is more likely. We found that 59% of IR Offices that provide a high level of support to the HR Office (both in information and coaching needs) have unrestricted access to salary data compared to 24% who provide no support to the HR Office. MORE

Salary Data Depends on Support from IR
Tableau Calculation Sets
By Michael Johnston, Director of Institutional Research, Pensacola State College

Tableau Logo There are circumstances where datasets have variables or combinations of variables that are not completely unique. Unique identifiers are expected to exist in duplicate in some datasets; however, they can make aggregation and calculations very difficult, especially when other values conflict. Most statistical software packages include a non-duplicate count function allowing a unique identifier to count only once. However, in some circumstances a row of data will be removed when a duplicate exists, eliminating differences between outcomes. Often, this type of situation is seen in course record lists. MORE
2018 AIR Award Recipients

AIR awards recognize individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the success of the Association and the IR profession through their leadership, service, and scholarship. AIR is pleased to recognize the outstanding contributions of these three individuals to the Association and the larger higher education community. MORE
TCSG College Board ACCUPLACER Data
By Terry McCamish, Accountability Data Analyst, Technical College System of Georgia

This visual display is designed to give quick comparison of results from classes with student scores on the ACCUPLACER Exam used for general education placement. There were five courses for programs of different levels.

The courses have different minimum scores that must attained to be eligible for entry into the appropriate class. English classes require a student to meet the minimum score on both the Reading Comprehension and Sentence Skills course. 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
In Memoriam
Cliff Adelman, AIR Board member, colleague, and friend passed away on May 3 at the age of 75… 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.
There are more than 120 listed on AIR's Job Board. Search Now!

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