e-AIR Newsletter May 2016

MAY 2016 NEWSLETTER, VOL. 36, ISSUE 5 | SINCE 1987 | A SERVICE OF AIR SINCE 1987
From Reverse Transfer to Degree Recovery

By Cliff Adelman, Institute for Higher Education Policy and member of the AIR Board of Directors

IR officers may recall the birth of the descriptive “reverse transfer” from the (unfortunately) late Barbara Townshend of the University of Missouri in 1999. In an era of dawning consciousness-of-attendance patterns as a major factor in postsecondary analyses, “reverse transfer” described students who began their postsecondary careers in four-year colleges and subsequently moved to a two-year college. That definition carried enough authority that it became ensconced as a variable in NCES data sets (such as the NELS 88-2000), in a mass of literature on attendance patterns, and in the National Student Clearinghouse 2012 signature report devoted to the topic. It continues to be in use today. MORE
 
BOARD CORNER
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Audit Complete, On to the Forum
By Michelle Hall
2015-2016 AIR Board Treasurer
The AIR constitution delegates responsibility of AIR’s fiscal controls and annual audit to the Board of Directors (Article V Section 4). The Board engaged the services of a Tallahassee firm to conduct the audit of the association for the calendar year 2015. I am pleased to announce that an unmodified audit was issued on both the association’s financial statements and the Major Federal Awards Programs. There were no reportable instances of significant deficiencies or material weaknesses in internal control and no material instances of noncompliance.

For those who do not speak auditor-ese, what this means is that the association and our federal contracts passed the audit with flying colors. In speaking with the lead auditor, he was very complimentary of our Executive Office staff. The association’s positive audit is due to the efforts of every AIR staff member adhering to our financial policies and procedures. I want to thank them for their diligence and care with the association’s finances. If you are interested in learning more about the audit, please be sure to attend the annual business meeting on Wednesday, June 1 at 2:00 p.m.

Speaking of the Forum, I want to personally welcome you all to Louisiana. There will be lots of great educational and professional development opportunities, plenty of chances to network, and I promise you’ll have a good time. The Executive Office has been hard at work making sure this year’s Forum is an outstanding success. If you have an opportunity, please take a minute to thank the staff for all their hard work and let them know how much you appreciate it.

The Board of Directors will be at the Forum, and we welcome the opportunity to hear from you and get your feedback on the direction of the association. In addition to the business meeting, you can find all of us at the reception on Wednesday, June 1 at 4:00 p.m. You don’t have to wait for those events to talk to us, though. If you see any one of us, please feel free to introduce yourself. I promise none of us bite. (At least I won’t after my first cup of coffee; before that I can’t guarantee anything!)

It’s hard for me to believe that 20 years ago I was attending my first Forum. The fact that I have only missed one since then is a testament to the importance of the Forum for our profession. I look forward to seeing you in New Orleans in a few weeks. MORE
 
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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Associate Degree Graduates Report
Through a variety of data, this publication provides data to support the value of the associate degree to students as they progress along an educational pathway. MORE.
 
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.
ASK eAIR
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Big Data, Small Data
Dear Leslie: My president and board members have been hearing about big data in the popular media, and they want to know what we are doing about it. How do I explain to them the differences between big data and what we have, which is small data? They want to be assured they can use our information to make good decisions.

You are very fortunate to have a board and president who are interested in new ideas and additional knowledge. You want to encourage such questions while supporting good decision-making based on your local context.

Although there is not a firm division at this time, big data is often measured in petabytes and exabytes. It tends to be unstructured and located across numerous sources. The size and complexity of the data available to larger organizations exceeds the capacities for storage, retrieval, and analysis of data in a reasonable time frame possessed by more traditional systems, such as data warehouses or relational databases. MORE

This month’s question is answered by Leslie Wasson, Director of Institutional Research, Assessment & Planning, Phillips Graduate University.
SPECIAL FEATURE
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Data Bite
In 2015, the National Survey of IR Offices was conducted to establish a baseline of IR Office capacities. The purpose of the survey was to document the characterizations of IR Offices, including scope of work, reporting lines, staffing, and fiscal resources. Each month, eAIR will feature a snapshot of data from that survey. This month, we highlight the average FTE of director and professional IR staff (filled or vacant positions) disaggregated by student FTE. From this graph, it is clear, and not surprising, that larger institutions have larger staffs. MORE
SPECIAL FEATURE
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Refining Our Vision for IR
How the Aspirational Statement Prompted Discourse and Change

By Meridith Drzakowski, Assistant Chancellor, Planning, Assessment, Research and Quality, University of Wisconsin-Stout.

In a time of declining budgets and increasing calls for accountability and assessment in higher education, the Statement of Aspirational Practice for Institutional Research has enabled the office of Planning, Assessment, Research and Quality (PARQ) at UW-Stout to engage campus stakeholders in an effort to find opportunities for improvement and refine programs and processes. MORE




SPECIAL FEATURE
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Data Fellows Program: Getting Data into the Right Hands
Dhushy Sathianathan is Interim Associate Vice President for Academic Planning at California State University-Long Beach. In this role, he has championed an effort to engage a group of individuals across campus to empower a wider group of users – including faculty, staff, and administrators in the colleges/departments and units – to make better use of data and evidence to drive student success. eAIR spoke with him about these “data fellows,” who come from all over campus and meet twice monthly to share ideas.

eAIR: What led to the creation of this program and what problem(s) were you trying to solve?

The Data Fellows program was created to fill a need internally. We had data-rich pockets, but users were not always savvy enough to take advantage of the data and ask the right questions. We were also plateauing in the ability to make additional progress, because the easy problems had already been tackled. The next level of challenges are far more complex and data needs to be tailored to each unit’s needs, and we discovered that staff, faculty, and administrators all look at data differently. Data were being pushed out, but many users did not know what do with it. MORE
 
TECH TIPS
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Using the Criteria Field in Microsoft Access
By Lee Allard, Director of Institutional Research, Siena College

Many of us use Microsoft Access to extract data from Banner or other enterprise systems, or to store data that doesn’t fit in our enterprise system. This tip provides an overview of the criteria field in Access queries, including Flexible Criteria, Date Criteria, and Using Tables as Input.

As an example, see the following Access query that pulls basic course data from a data warehouse created from Banner. MORE
SPECIAL FEATURE
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AIR Awards Promote Association, Higher Education Success
As a membership organization, the success of AIR is a celebration of the knowledge, skill, and dedication of its members. 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.

The three awards, the Outstanding Service Award, the John Stecklein Distinguished Member Award, and the Sidney Suslow Scholar Award each have specific criteria focused on leadership, service, and scholarship. To be considered for an award, a recipient must be nominated by an AIR member and receive at least two letters of support from other members. 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.
 
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
 
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