Listening to Improve our Association

By Ellen Peters, AIR Immediate Past President and Gina Johnson, AIR Assistant Executive Director for Partnerships & Membership

What did members say?

leadsept2018.pngAIR members talked a lot last year. We know, because we listened. We were – and still are – interested in the perceived changes to the field and AIR’s role in addressing these changes. Listening sessions were hosted by the AIR Board and Executive Office staff between summer 2017 and early 2018. We asked three questions during these sessions, which were conducted at regional and state AIR Affiliated Organization (AO) events and other higher education gatherings:
  1. Thinking about the next five years, what changes and trends within higher education do you see that may affect the field of IR/IE/assessment and require the knowledge and skills of professionals in these areas?

  2. What new skills, knowledge, education, and training will you need to be effective in your role and advance in your career?

  3. In what ways might AIR raise the profile of IR and decision support and promote cross-campus dialogue?

What did we learn?

Professional researchers with experience in qualitative analysis analyzed the data and prepared a report (PDF). Themes that emerged include:

  • IR professionals seek skills and opportunities to enhance their diplomatic abilities when engaging in work across their organization.

  • With the increased availability of new and updated technologies to conduct the work of institutional research, professionals seek opportunities to engage with vendors and colleagues to learn about new technologies and techniques to improve their knowledge and skills

  • The theme of leadership – both development of leadership skills by IR professionals and opportunities to engage more successfully with organizational leadership – was one that came up frequently in the listening sessions.

  • Some of the needs expressed by listening session participants connect to resources currently provided by AIR, or those under development, indicating that improvements in communication about available resources is a necessary focus of the Association to ensure that the higher education community is aware of resources that may meet their needs.

What’s next?

AIR is incorporating this feedback to plan programming for members. We are exploring partnerships and education opportunities around the theme of leadership development, considering ways to enhance offerings related to selection and use of technology tools, and developing enhanced ways of communicating the work of AIR.

The Board spent the August Board meeting clarifying the vision (the “Ends”) of AIR to incorporate member feedback:

  A. AIR educates institutional researchers, higher education leaders, and professionals and organizations on the value of
      institutional research. 

  B. AIR empowers and supports higher education professionals in: 

  • Contextualizing data across campus and throughout higher education; 

  • Learning methods and tools of the institutional research profession; 

  • Evaluating the effectiveness of institutions; and 

  • Conducting research and scholarship. 

  C. AIR provides opportunities for the development of professional and interpersonal skills. 

  D. AIR promotes the development of professional networks. 

Here’s the thing - the world keeps changing, and IR is changing quickly too. We need to keep listening to you so that AIR can be proactive and responsive to member needs.

Please help us keep the conversation going by sharing your thoughts with us.