Enhancing Analytics Capacity through Collaboration

Wikipedia defines analytics as the “discovery, interpretation, and communication of meaningful patterns in data.” It is a term lead-story-understanding-analytics-analyses.pngheard frequently on campuses and at other educational organizations, though it is not always clear that the higher education community has a consistent definition of this concept. Analysis, on the other hand, is a broad concept involving the collection, interpretation, and reporting of data to inform decision making. Generally, analytics refers to the use of technical tools and analysis techniques to conduct analyses. In our interactions with members and partners, AIR is hearing that an organization’s analytics capacity is enhanced when a collaborative atmosphere is present. Developing resources and partnerships to enhance analytics capacity in higher education is one of AIR’s top priorities.

Here are some highlights of the work AIR is collaboratively conducting to enhance analytics capacity:

  • In March 2018, AIR was invited to join EDUCAUSE and NACUBO in collaboratively hosting an event focused on enterprise analytics. Plans are currently underway for the April 2019 event, Enterprise Summit: Analytics, with the theme focusing on the future promise of analytics in higher education.

  • In April 2018, AIR co-published the results of a study in collaboration with NASPA and EDUCAUSE titled, Institutions’ Use of Data and Analytics for Student Success: Results from a National Landscape Analysis. Results indicate that 89% of survey respondents have invested in predictive data and analytics studies to increase student success.

  • Given the particular focus on use of technical tools and techniques to conduct analytics, AIR and EDUCAUSE are exploring a special partnership related to collaboration among IR and IT professionals. Prior to the recent EDUCAUSE annual conference, a small group of AIR members and staff met with EDUCAUSE members and staff to explore potential collaborations between the associations to conduct work on this topic. AIR members and staff also presented a workshop on IR and IT collaboration and noticed reference to the topic on conference social media (#EDU18 on Twitter). More information will be available soon on this ongoing work.

  • Many AIR webinar topics have an analytics focus and are available both live and on demand.

  • As always, the AIR Forum is packed with analytics-related sessions. Some 2018 sessions were recorded and are available online for members, including the two keynotes - both with an analytics theme. The 2019 AIR Forum is sure to include many analytics-related sessions as well.

Collaboration within AIR and with our partners in the higher education community allows colleges, universities, and other related higher education organizations to benefit from the collective wisdom of the community to enhance its analytics capacity. Individuals in many professions have the knowledge, skills, and abilities it takes to ensure data are collected, analyzed, interpreted, and reported in ways that improve the decision-making capacity of everyone in higher education. The Duties and Functions of Institutional Research encourage organizations to include these aspects in their institutional research or analytics function. The Statement of Aspirational Practice for Institutional Research also encourages those in the profession to expand their definition of decision makers, collaborating with internal and external partners to ensure data are timely, accurate, and informative.

How are you enhancing analytics capacity in your setting through collaborative action with your colleagues? We would love to hear from you!



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