The Data and Decisions Academy is a series of online, self-paced courses designed for community college institutional research (IR) professionals.  Courses are accessible without travel or special software, and are designed for busy employees who need on-the-job training. Within about 10 hours of study and exercises, participants will acquire the knowledge and skills to perform a critical IR function. With an investment of approximately 25 hours, participants can complete an entire course and obtain a broader knowledge base of IR competencies. Initial funding for the Data and Decisions Academy is made possible by a $1.92 million grant from Lumina Foundation for Education. The Academy is hosted by the Association for Institutional Research in Tallahassee, Florida.
The Academy offers seven courses:
1. Foundational Statistics for Decision Support
2. Foundations of Data Management
3. Designing IR Research
4. Survey Design
5. Learning Outcomes
6. Longitudinal Tracking for IR
7. Student Success Through the Lens of Data (team-based cours

Mentors are a critical component of the Data and Decisions Academy. They answer course specific questions asked by participants and provide feedback on completed exercises. Questions are answered within 24 hours and participants can setup their Portal settings to receive emails when Mentors reply to questions or leave feedback. Mentors are full-time institutional research professionals who understand the importance of practical on-the-job training and are ready to help participants learn new skills.

Course Structure
Each course contains four elements:
  1. The Overview Paper introduces the participant to the course topic and provides an explanation of relevancy. It also introduces relevant vocabulary and provides sources for additional reading and exploration.

  2. Each course includes three Core Lessons. Each Core Lesson focuses on one "essential idea" which was introduced in the Overview Paper and represents basic knowledge needed to complete future lessons and tasks in the course.

  3. Task Modules provide depth to the course by focusing on a specific task that might be assigned to an institutional research office

  4. Exercises are hands on application of the material in the Task Modules. Labs always require the use or interpretation of data and use a shared data warehouse provided by AIR.


Learning Portal
The Data and Decisions Academy Learning Portal provides participants with access to course material at all times. Accessible from any computer, the Portal is a unique learning environment that includes content papers, videos, and exercises.