Statement of Aspirational Practice Conversation

The Statement of Aspirational Practice for Institutional Research is intended to be a conversation piece and will evolve dynamically over time. As such, AIR encourages comments and dialog about the ideas featured in the aspirational statement. How does it fit with your vision for the future? What components of the statement resonate with use of data at your institution or organization?

Statement of Aspirational Practice for Institutional Research - An Excerpt from the Introduction:

Data are everywhere across institutions of higher education, and access to analytical tools and reporting software means that a wide array of higher education employees can be actively involved in converting data into decision-support information. As such, models of decision making are changing, which opens new opportunities for wise use of data resources. This Statement of Aspirational Practice for Institutional Research presents a hybrid approach in which offices of institutional research work in conjunction with other departments and units to produce an organization-wide institutional research function. This approach includes continuation of most current functions, reallocation of some resources, and the addition of new, focused approaches. Key to this vision are a broadened definition of “decision makers” supported by institutional research, an intentional structure and leadership for data capacities, and adoption of a “student-focused” paradigm for decision support.

This approach builds on the 50-year collaborative nature of the institutional research field. It is a hybrid model of past traditions and new structures, founded on human resource capacities—within a dedicated office of institutional research and embedded in decision points across the institution—with focus on the collection, interpretation, and use of data to achieve an institution’s mission. The goal is for smart people to make smart decisions to improve student success.


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Total Comments: 4
Oscar posted on 3/17/2016 1:38 AM
This is truly an important ‘sea change’ for the field of institutional research and perfectly fits my vision of what should be emphasized and promoted in this field in the future. I can understand that some institutional researchers may be concerned that including within IR a focus on research pertaining to college student success, and involvement with a broader group of decision-makers and researchers, could possibly divert needed time and energy from their traditional roles. However, this is a legitimate and desirable on-going function for institutional researchers and IR offices, and good discussion and planning can develop creative ways to effectively, efficiently and unobtrusively incorporate such an additional focus within the IR office. I firmly believe that adding a primary focus on researching student success on campus (and on-online) and how to improve that success will significantly benefit the field of institutional research and give IR desirable new visibility and influence throughout higher education and beyond.
Kimberly posted on 3/17/2016 9:23 AM
The Statement of Aspirational Practice for IR is timely as many organizations look to create data-informed cultures. IR professionals have a unique opportunity to lead these efforts and help their institutions think more strategically about the role data currently plays and the role it should play. The Statement provides a gold standard - but is written in actionable terms that will allow organizations to self-assess and set realistic goals. As I was reading the statement (for about the 4th time), I began thinking about how it lends itself to workshops across campus with key data consumers such as deans and administrative leaders. With the key theme of being student-focused, I can't wait to work across academic and student service departments to brain-storm cross-functional studies. So, as you are reading (or re-reading) the Statement, what are some applications you are already conceiving for your institution?
Leslie posted on 3/17/2016 1:04 PM
This is timely. I showed this to our leadership and told them it was the foundation for my IR strategic planning, budget, and resource requests going forward. If they have a goal of using information effectively to make decisions for student success, this document helps them understand the kind of institutional development and investment that will assist those things to happen.
Sandi posted on 3/17/2016 4:56 PM
What a great conversation starter!! I am already using the Statement of Aspirational Practice for Institutional Research in my discussions with my staff, my executives, my colleagues and anyone who applies for a position in my office. This statement makes the practice of institutional research a team effort across all of our constituencies.