e-AIR Newsletter November 2016

Turning Military Student Data into Actionable Information

By Sara Appel, MCMC Project Coordinator, Midwestern Higher Education Compact, and Gina Johnson, Strategy Director for IR Capacity Initiatives, AIR

The United States lacks a clear picture related to the success of military students, including service members, veterans, and their dependents in postsecondary education. Researchers and program administrators need quality data with clear definitions to better understand the landscape and help identify necessary additions and changes to services at postsecondary institutions to ensure military student success. Such data and analyses would allow institutions and systems to answer the following questions:
  • How many military students are completing 2-year and 4-year degrees and in what timeframe?
  • In what majors or areas of concentration are military students seeking degrees?
  • Are military students starting a degree program and stopping out? If so, why? And how can they best be assisted in returning when the time is right? MORE
State of the Profession and the IR Function
Glenn W. James, 2016-2017 AIR President
Over the years, institutional research professionals have faced a persistent challenge in developing information and analyses to help each institution and its decision makers.

Institutional researchers seek to help their institutions to see constructs more clearly and to understand constituent parts of the institution more strongly and with greater insight.

Another part of the aim is to have requisite information more readily available.

In higher education institutions today, the need for information and analyses is substantial and extends deeply into various aspects of the institution.

In the culture of modern society, expectations about information and analyses have increased steadily, as the importance of these crucial knowledge resources has continued to grow.

Institutions are seeking to make informed decisions and to develop action plans that are well-positioned, timely, and likely to be successful.

Unquestionably, IR professionals must be strategic in setting appropriate priorities for the development of information and analyses with limited staffing and resources.

The IR function is broad and has many dimensions and parts.

So, how will this large function be addressed?

The surging demand for information and analyses is already beyond what the commonly identified IR operation can provide.

Therefore, the evolving solution of shared engagement with the larger IR function is a completely realistic condition that must be addressed effectively.

Many of us work in colleges and universities where diverse points of view can be shared, discussed, and debated.

I encourage us to apply that approach and to engage fully in the exploration and discussion of the IR function and the various people, structures, and resources that can be brought to bear upon the ever-rising need and demand for information and analyses.

How will institutional researchers collaborate with other informational and analytical partners in addressing the comprehensive institutional needs for information and analyses?

Let’s explore and discuss it together! MORE
Who's on the Move?
New titles. New promotions. New institutions. Friends and colleagues on the move.
Data Policy Toolkit: Implementing the State Blueprint
The Workforce Data Quality Campaign released a toolkit to offer information about policies and legislative templates that states can enact to improve state data infrastructure and promote data use.

There are still gaps, such as missing information on non-credit training and programs that assist low-skilled workers. 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.
Sharing Data with Students to Inform Decision Making
Dear Rachel: The Statement of Aspirational Practice for Institutional Research talks about "Activating Data-Informed Student Decision Making." How can IR professionals share data with students in a way that informs their decision making?

Using data to evaluate, inform, and improve education motivates institutional researchers every day. This work takes the form of both retrospective reviews and predictive analyses that guide daily decisions and strategic directions. MORE

This month’s question is answered by Rachel Boon, Academic Program Manager at the Iowa Board of Regents.
Data Bite
Last month, we discussed the location of funding for the IR Office. This month, we’ll delve a little deeper into the budget of the IR Office.

In the National Survey of IR Offices, we asked respondents for the number of dollars that the Office of IR had primary responsibility or oversight for during the 2014-2015 academic year (excluding salary and benefits). As expected, that number correlates with institutional enrollment. MORE

Increase Your Survey Skills with Digital Pass

View the recorded sessions below to find out more about the University of California undergraduate experience survey and overcoming barriers for administering satisfaction assessments.

Student Academic and Civic Engagement: Does It Matter to Career Success?
This session focuses on a study using the University of California undergraduate experience survey and alumni salary data to examine relationships between student academic and civic engagement, and employment outcomes after graduation. The presenters’ goal is to help institutions create rigorous programs and provide opportunities for students to improve learning mindsets and develop personal qualities required for career success. Presenters: Xiaohui Zheng and Susannah McCormick, University of California Office of the President

Student Satisfaction Data: Overcoming Barriers and Facilitating Use
Student satisfaction surveys are a key component in assessing the student experience. Representatives from four-year and two-year institutions share how they have overcome barriers for administering satisfaction assessments, and provide examples of how student satisfaction data are being utilized for institutional change and dialogue. They also reveal how their IR offices are partnering with other college departments to actively use data for planning and evaluation purposes. Presenters: Laura Fingerson, Capella University; Katherine Coy; Harper College; Julie Bryant, Ruffalo Noel Levitz; Stacy Vlahakis, National Louis University; and Marcia Finch, Neumann University

AIR Membership Indicates Commitment to IR Profession
Gayle Fink is Assistant Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness at Bowie State University.

eAIR: The Statement of Aspirational Practice for Institutional Research talks about "Activating Data-Informed Faculty Decision Making." How is Bowie State sharing data with faculty in a way that informs their decision-making?

The Statement of Aspirational Practice encourages IR professionals to have an expanded view of "Decision Makers." In addition to senior leadership, the Statement suggests that students, faculty, and staff are integral and necessary decision makers as institutions focus on student success.

Bowie State University's Office of Planning, Analysis and Accountability (OPAA) has a rich history of supporting faculty and academic departments with aggregated program level data i.e. enrollment, degree, course and credit hours generated. MORE

Recent Grads' Cumulative Student Loan Debt
By Scott Baumler, Director of Institutional Research, Loras College

Averages tell the truth – but only on average. To describe more of the story, consider using a box plot.

A box plot diagrams the quartiles of a dataset, as shown here. In addition, this visual conveys a sense of the raw data distribution by showing the actual data points behind the boxes. Student loan debt is often reported using averages. The mean alone, however, does not convey information about the spread of observations. MORE
Creating Word Clouds with Online Tools and Tableau
By Rita Xiaoyan Liu, Assistant Director, Office of Institutional Research and Planning, Bucknell University
In addition to visualizing numerical data, our Office of Institutional Research is facing increasing demands to analyze qualitative data, such as students’ comments, major choices, and course selections.

Word clouds are a simple visualization that present qualitative data and attract users’ attention. If you search online using the term “word clouds,” you will find some free online tools to generate easy and quick word clouds, such as Wordle or Word Clouds. For purposes of this article, we’ll focus on Wordle. MORE

Good Reads for the Higher Ed Professional
Keep current with the latest news from these influential journals:

- Research in Higher Education
- Journal of the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition
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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