e-AIR Newsletter November 2015

Launch of College Scorecard: Feedback From the IR Community

The much-anticipated College Scorecard, designed to provide consumer information to assist students in choosing the best college, was unveiled in September 2015. The tool allows users to search for institutions by name and by factors such as cost, graduation rate, loan default rate, average amount borrowed, and employment data.

AIR reviewed responses to the tool’s launch and reached out to members to learn how institutional researchers are responding to the College Scorecard. The data behind the tool were made readily available for download, and Whitworth University has placed a data file on its Tableau® public site.

Whitworth, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (UWEC), and doubtless many other institutions are using Tableau® to create visualizations of the data for their institutions and peers. Stony Brook University has focused its peer comparisons on the metrics that are newly available in this tool, including data on earnings, debt, and repayment rates. UWEC, Stony Brook, and Duquesne University described preparation of reports to brief institutional leadership and communications staff on their institution’s data on the College Scorecard.

The higher education community is also responding to the launch of the College Scorecard. The Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) released a statement indicating that, until a student unit record system exists, the College Scorecard data “offer a much-needed step towards transparency in higher education that can help advance quality outcomes for all students.” MORE
Electing AIR’s Leadership
By Gary R. Pike
2015-2016 AIR President

By the time you read this Board Corner, nominations for AIR’s leadership positions will have closed, and the Nominations and Elections Committee will have begun the task of reviewing the nominations and producing a slate of candidates for the Board of Directors, Vice President, and the Nominations and Elections Committee.

I hope you have taken the time to nominate someone for a leadership position.

These leadership positions are critically important:

  •  Board members determine AIR’s mission and goals, develop high-level policies to guide organizational actions and decisions, monitor and assess the performance of the executive director, and have responsibility for AIR’s fiscal controls.

  •  The Vice President of the Board of Directors is elected annually by the AIR membership, and serves one year as Vice President, one year as President, and one year as Immediate Past President and Chair of the Nominations and Elections Committee.

  •  Members of the Nominations and Elections Committee produce the slate of candidates for AIR leadership positions, ensure that AIR elections are conducted properly, and report election results to the membership.

Our governance policies require that the slate of candidates will (1) be current AIR members and have at least three years prior Association membership, (2) have demonstrated organizational governance experience, (3) have experience with fiduciary oversight, and (4) be able to advocate on behalf of all Association members.

The Board added these criteria to communicate to members that AIR leadership is not limited to those of us who have been members for 20 years, and that AIR’s leaders need to have the skills required to govern the Association.

Once the Nominations and Elections Committee has finished its job of producing a slate of candidates, your job begins. As members of AIR, you will elect the people who will lead the Association.

Recently, Julie Carpenter-Hubin, former AIR President, wrote an essay for the Board titled Electing Our Leadership.

I want to share some of Julie’s thoughts with you as you begin to think about voting in the next AIR election.

Julie notes that “Board members work collaboratively to govern, and professional expertise is less important than the ability to participate in team leadership.”

She also identifies several characteristics she believes are important for AIR’s leaders:

  •  Collaborate with colleagues

  •  Consider different perspectives

  •  Discern commonalities and differences in conflicting perspectives


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
Who's on the Move?
New titles. New promotions. New institutions. Friends and colleagues on the move.
Being a Scholar-Practitioner While Pursuing an IR Career
Dear Kristina: How can I be a scholar-practitioner while pursuing a career in IR?

Many institutional researchers spend a substantial amount of time satisfying research requests from their stakeholders, rather than their own. One of the perennial discussions among institutional researchers is that they do not have enough time for all of the requests that are submitted to their office, let alone presenting and publishing ideas externally. MORE

Kristina Powers is Associate Vice President of Institutional Research Services at Bridgepoint Education. She is a regular presenter at the AIR Forum and California AIR. A second edition of her co-edited book, Organization and Administration in Higher Education, will release in late 2016. Her co-edited New Directions for Institutional Research (NDIR) issue is scheduled for publication in spring 2016. She has also been invited to author a chapter on gainful employment for NDIR. 
The Quest for Rigor in Qualitative Studies: Strategies for Institutional Researchers
By Felice Billups, Professor in the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program, Johnson & Wales University
Institutional researchers devote considerable effort to ensure that their studies are rigorous, valid, reliable, and actionable. Clients (e.g. faculty, staff) expect these studies to be professionally accomplished with precision and objectivity, grounded in sound ethical practice.

These expectations, however, are typically oriented towards quantitative designs; the concepts of rigor, validity, reliability, and generalizability are not applied to qualitative studies in the same ways. MORE
Humboldt State University Strategic Plan
By Michael Le, Research Analyst, Office of Institutional Research and Planning, Humboldt State University

In spring 2015, under the leadership of a new president, Humboldt State University created a new strategic plan.

The plan set graduation targets for 2020, which were undertaken in the context of the targets established by the California State University (CSU) system for 2025. The strategic plan was designed to span five years. MORE
My AIR Story
The Association for Institutional Research was incorporated as a non-profit corporation on February 7, 1966. As the official anniversary date approaches, we invite you to share your AIR story as we celebrate 50 years as an association serving higher education. On the AIR website, briefly share the impact that AIR has had on your professional career. Stories about specific experiences, mentors, etc. are welcomed.

If you would like to include a photograph, please email Elaine Cappellino membership@airweb.org.

A Parent Walks into an IR Office…
Shari Ellertson, Director of Institutional Research, and Nick Warcholak, Associate Director for Research, Office of Institutional Research, Boise State University recently had a surprise visit from an interested Boise State parent - Marty Mullholland. Their unique interaction follows.

eAIR: What was your reaction when Marty came to see you?

Nick: I answered the door, and she said she wanted to talk about research at the university. I thought she meant faculty research so that her daughter could get involved. She said, “No, I meant institutional research.” So I was taken by surprise. She wanted to know how IR informs student success efforts and to what degree.

Shari: I also was surprised as we are more accustomed to directing traffic (or lost traffic)! Not many people just drop into our office to talk about data. She specifically wanted to know more about how retention and graduation rates are calculated. My initial instinct was to get her to the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies Office to talk about their work and what the university is doing to improve student success, but she was really interested in talking to the “data people” about what goes into the rates and how they’re calculated. Nick and I basically talked to her about the gory details of the calculations and the federal requirements. That level of detail resonated with her as she works in the data sciences field. MORE

Using Excel Text Formulas
This Tech Tip provides helpful formulas to keep in mind when working with text in Excel. PROPER is contributed by Carolyn H. Gould, Director of Institutional Research, Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University. The remaining sections (CLEAN, TRIM, LEFT and RIGHT, and SUBSTITUTE and REPLACE) are contributed by Angela Henderson, Associate Director of Institutional Research & Effectiveness, Stetson University.
As a very popular software application, Excel is useful for sharing data. I often receive Excel data files and share files with others; however, the format in which the data was entered is at times less than desirable.

At my university, I take course evaluation and enrollment information from the university’s system and upload it into the business school’s faculty information system. Once in the faculty information system, the information populates a number of formal reports. MORE
AIR Resources for New IPEDS Outcome Measures Survey Component
Make the AIR website your one-stop shop to learn more about the new Outcome Measures (OM) IPEDS survey component opening on Dec. 9, 2015, as part of the winter IPEDS collection period. With a detailed overview of the component, links to helpful IPEDS resources (including survey form, instructions, and frequently asked questions), and video tutorials, the AIR website is a great starting point for learning about OM data reporting and how it will impact your campus.

Outcome Measures is designed to provide consumers, policymakers, and researchers context for and an alternative to the graduation rates calculated for the purposes of the Student Right to Know and Campus Security Act of 1990. 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
Trends in Higher Education
The College Board released their annual updates to Trends in College Pricing and Trends in Student Aid. Trends in College Pricing provides information on changes over time in undergraduate tuition and fees, room and board, and other estimate expenses related to attending colleges and universities. MORE.
Announcements for conferences, meetings, institutes, symposiums, and other events of interest. See the LISTINGS.

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.

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