e-AIR Newsletter December 2015

DECEMBER 2015 NEWSLETTER, VOL. 35, ISSUE 12 | A SERVICE OF AIR SINCE 1987
The Top 3 eAIR Articles of 2015: Why They Caught
Readers’ Attention


Gina Johnson, an AIR member currently on leave from her position as Executive Director of Institutional Research and Analysis at the University of Denver to serve as AIR’s Strategy Director for IR Capacity Initiatives, was asked to share her perspective on the three most highly viewed eAIR articles from 2015.

Read her thoughts on why these three articles may have appealed to eAIR subscribers. Share your insights on the 2015 articles and predict the hot topics of 2016 on the AIR website.


Avoiding Data Warehouse Pitfalls (May 2015 eAIR): Given the fact that IR increasingly coordinates with IT to ensure that data are stored securely while allowing appropriate access and use of those data by individuals, it is no surprise that an article related to data warehousing was the most highly viewed article of 2015.

Students, faculty, staff, and leadership are all demanding quick access to data needed to inform decisions, and institutional researchers are turning to technology to help meet those demands. A feature of this article was the inclusion of data from an AIR member survey on the topic of implementing a data warehouse. MORE
 
BOARD CORNER
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2015 was a Productive Year for Institutional Research
By Gary R. Pike
2015-2016 AIR President
As you may have gathered by now, I’m very interested in the section of the AIR Ends Policy that says, “Higher education leaders view institutional research as essential.”

I’ve worked in institutions where institutional research was viewed as essential and in institutions where it was not. The former was better than the latter—for me and for the institution.

As 2015 draws to a close, I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on what has been accomplished vis-à-vis the Ends Policy and to look forward to 2016.

In 2014 and 2015, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, AIR embarked on a project titled Improving and Transforming Institutional Research in Postsecondary Education.

The goal of the project is to better understand where IR is today and how it needs to evolve in the future. Information about the initiative is available on the AIR website.

One of the first steps in understanding current IR practice was to contract with Peter Ewell and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) to survey senior administrators and institutional research personnel about the use of data in decision making.

The results of the survey will serve as a benchmark for assessing the success of AIR’s efforts.

At the same time, AIR began the long process of developing a national survey of institutional research offices. The goal is to gather and disseminate information about the structures, resources, and capacities of IR offices.

It is expected that this will become an annual survey that institutions can use for benchmarking against peer institutions, and that AIR can use to explain the importance of institutional research to campus leaders and policy makers. The first version of the survey was pilot-tested and launched in summer 2015.

In 2014 and 2015, AIR also began developing a “Statement of Aspirational Practice for Institutional Research.”

In fall 2014, AIR members responded to a call for aspirational statements and input was sought from six subject-matter experts who were also AIR members.

In spring 2015, 10 institutions agreed to pilot-test the aspirational statement by vetting it with colleagues in the institution and developing an action plan for putting the statement into practice.

The statement is available on the AIR website. MORE
 
ANNOUNCEMENTS
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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
 
CHANGING SCENE
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Who's on the Move?
New titles. New promotions. New institutions. Friends and colleagues on the move.
 
IR IN THE KNOW
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What Colleges Do For Local Economies
This analysis by the Brookings Institute explores benefits to local economies that extend beyond individual workers. This brief finds that the average bachelor’s degree holder contributes $278,000 more to local economies than the average high school graduate over the course of his or her lifetime. MORE.
ASK eAIR
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Implementing an Institutional Review Board (IRB)
Dear Hannah and Jim, what guidance would you offer an institution that is starting an Institutional Review Board (IRB)? Do you have any advice for avoiding pitfalls, etc., when implementing one?

When starting an IRB at your institution, remember that you don't need to reinvent the wheel. Once you have ensured that you are meeting federal requirements, look at other institutions to gain an understanding of common practices.

Reading the IRB policies and FAQs at other colleges and universities helps you develop policies, procedures, and means for communicating IRB proceedings and regulations that are most appropriate to your unique institution. Start by looking at existing IRBs at institutions that you would consider to be peers. MORE

This month’s question is answered by Hannah Spirrison, Director of Institutional Effectiveness and Jim Woehrle, Associate Director of Institutional Effectiveness, Research, and Planning and Chair of the IRB, both from Antioch College. 
SPECIAL FEATURE
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IPEDS Update: GASB Finance Survey New Pension Screen
Public institutions using Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) standards to report IPEDS data will notice an unanticipated change in the 2015-16 Finance survey component form.

Recently, GASB added unfunded pension liabilities to its reporting standards (GASB Standard 68). To ensure alignment with these new GASB standards, NCES submitted an emergency request to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which was approved in November 2015. MORE
VISUAL DISPLAY OF DATA
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Comparing the Student Experience Over Time
By Jeffrey Cornett, Director of Institutional Research, Ivy Tech Community College – Central Indiana Region

CAT-scans track Cohorts Across Time. They illustrate the full range of student experiences over cohort outcome years. Unlike performance metrics that focus on a single outcome type at a single point in time, CAT-scans provide much more information to reconcile all outcomes. Most importantly, examining the full range of student experiences provides useful insight into why and when students leave before graduating.


The simplest CAT-scan looks at just four outcome layers – graduates, retained, transfers-out, and dropouts. The mix of these four outcomes varies widely as you track students over longer periods of time. MORE
SPECIAL FEATURE
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The Association for Institutional Research: The First 50 Years
As part of AIR’s 50th anniversary celebration, historic documents including papers, books, and manuscripts are being added to the AIR History page throughout this year. One such document is The Association for Institutional Research: The First 50 Years by Gary Rice, project coordinator, and Mary Ann Coughlin and Richard Howard, co-editors.

The document summarizes the findings of a project, including document review, information collection, and personal interviews, tracing the history of institutional research and its role in American higher education and the history of the Association for Institutional Research. MORE




SPECIAL FEATURE
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AIR Announces New Access Group Grant Partnership
The Association for Institutional Research is pleased to announce a new partnership with the Access Group Center for Research & Policy AnalysisSM to support higher education. The Research and Dissertation Fellows Program is a grant competition promoting scholarship on issues related to access, affordability, and the value of legal education specifically, and graduate and professional education more broadly.

Two levels of grants are available to support year-long research projects for individuals affiliated with non-profit U.S. postsecondary institutions or relevant higher and legal education organizations. AIR membership is not required to be eligible.
  • $50,000 Research Grants: Research grants of up $50,000 are available to faculty, practitioners, and scholars.
  • $25,000 Doctoral Grants: Dissertation grants of up to $25,000 are available to doctoral students to support dissertation research and writing under the guidance of a faculty dissertation advisor. MORE

TECH TIPS
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Merging Multiple Reviewer Feedback into One Document
By Lenore Benefield, Director, Assessment & Accrediation Management Systems, Florida Gulf Coast University.
Many documents, such as strategic plans, academic program reviews, accreditation response narratives, and a variety of proposals, incorporate suggestions from department directors, committee members, deans, chairs, and faculty.


Our office recently sent a draft document to multiple departments for their review and suggestions. The recommended revisions from a variety of sources have been combined into one document with tracked changes. MORE
JOURNAL NEWS
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Good Reads for the Higher Ed Professional
OTHER EVENTS
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Announcements for conferences, meetings, institutes, symposiums, and other events of interest. See the LISTINGS.

THANK YOU
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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.

JOBS
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There are more than 130 listed on AIR's Job Board.
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