Foundations Workshops

These virtual workshops introduce skills needed for a strong data-informed decision culture and are packed with information considered to be the foundational knowledge in each area of concentration. Delivered in an engaging manner, the workshops are designed for anyone who works closely with data in higher education—not just IR professionals.

The following workshops are currently being offered:

  • Foundations of Research Design
  • Foundations of Data
  • Foundations of Survey Design
  • Foundations of Descriptive Statistics
  • Foundations of Effective Reporting

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IPEDS Workshops

AIR has a longstanding history of producing workshops on the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) so that organizations can provide IPEDS training to their members and constituents. Current workshop options are outlined below. 



  • Best Practices for Reporting and Using IPEDS Data to Improve Office Efficiencies (In-Person Only)

    This recently redesigned workshop provides intermediate-level keyholder training, and is specifically designed for individuals who have led IPEDS data submissions at their institutions for at least one full reporting cycle. It features best practices in IR, as well as technical efficiencies in data management through Excel and in review and submission of IPEDS survey data. The workshop expands on the use of IPEDS data for benchmarking to address key institutional questions and needs. Participants should have experience with the “Use the Data” section of the NCES website, and a working knowledge of Excel. 

    Note: IPEDS survey component submission instructions and basic benchmarking concepts are not covered in this workshop.

  • Beyond Compliance: How to Use IPEDS Data to Examine Student and Institutional Success (In-Person Only)
    This workshop is designed for individuals interested in utilizing IPEDS data to examine and measure student and institutional success. The first half of the workshop explores the five IPEDS surveys that contain academic performance metrics (Completions, Graduation Rates, 200% Graduation Rates, Fall Enrollment, and Outcome Measures).  Through group discussion, activities, and lectures, participants will learn what the measurements can—and cannot—tell us about student and institutional performance. The second half of the workshop will involve hands-on activities to work through a series of case studies based on real-life scenarios. Participants will identify the question being asked in each case study; determine the best metric(s) to use to answer the question; extract data using the IPEDS tools; perform analyses; and present the data to answer the question.  Participants will gain the knowledge needed to explore and answer questions at their institutions or organizations. 
  • New Keyholder Workshop

    This workshop provides essential beginner-level training and a thorough introduction to the IPEDS data collection cycle and reporting requirements. Workshop topics outline keyholders’ roles and responsibilities and highlight the resources available to assist in the IPEDS planning and reporting processes. Participants are given the opportunity to create an IPEDS planning calendar for the upcoming data collection cycle. Additionally, this workshop serves as a valuable professional networking opportunity for institutional researchers in their new roles.



  • IPEDS Data and Benchmarking: Supporting Decision Making and Institutional Effectiveness

    This workshop introduces the fundamentals of benchmarking as a way to demonstrate institutional effectiveness. It is designed for individuals with little to no experience in benchmarking studies. Participants use data from the IPEDS Surveys, Data Feedback Reports, and the “Use the Data” center at the NCES website to learn about the types of comparison groups that can be constructed. Exercises demonstrate establishment of key performance indicators (KPIs) and identification of variables to refine comparison groups. 

  • IPEDS Data as the Public Face of an Institution

    This workshop stresses the importance of accuracy and consistency in data reported to IPEDS. Examples of real IPEDS data used in the public domain are incorporated, enabling participants to understand the role of governmental and non-governmental entities in IPEDS reporting. The workshop includes presentations, discussions, exercises, and demonstrations using IPEDS data tools and resources.

  • IPEDS Data Tools

    This workshop provides a hands-on deep dive into the IPEDS Use the Data website to better determine which of the various tools to use in applied higher education research. Participants can expect to learn when to use Data Trends, Statistical Tables, Summary Tables, Compare Institutions, and Custom Data Downloads leading to increased efficiency in responding to data requests. We will explore each of these tools and the benefits and limitations of each.

  • IPEDS Finance Training for IR Professionals

    This workshop is designed for IR professionals who have no training in finance or accounting, and focuses on a general understanding of higher education finance with an overview of where, how, and why IPEDS Finance data are used. Topics include an introduction to higher education finance; Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) vs. Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB); key accounting concepts; a review of general purpose financial statements and how they relate to the IPEDS Finance survey; and reporting comparison challenges. Exercises provide participants with experience completing the IPEDS Finance survey and benchmarking with commonly used finance variables. 

  • IPEDS Human Resources Training

    This workshop prepares individuals to accurately complete the IPEDS Human Resources (HR) survey. It is designed for IR and human resources professionals, as well as other researchers or administrators who want to increase their understanding of these data. Topics include preparing data to increase consistency within the survey, understanding data definitions, classification of employees and alignment of employee function with Bureau of Labor Statistics Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) codes, coordination of effort between stakeholders in and outside of an institution, and planning for efficacy of data beyond the IPEDS HR survey itself. Exercises cover classifying employees properly, preparing for and completing the IPEDS HR survey, and benchmarking with commonly used employee metrics.

  • IPEDS Student Financial Aid Training

    This workshop provides foundational training for completing the IPEDS Student Financial Aid Survey using an integrated approach to managing, storing, and extracting financial aid data required for survey completion. Topics include an overview of financial aid concepts and how they intersect IPEDS, how to effectively create frozen data files from enrollment and financial aid systems, how to use these files to answer the respective sections of the survey, and how the files can be leveraged to address additional internal reporting needs. The workshop concludes with exercises focused on how IPEDS financial aid data are used for external purposes as well as for internal benchmarking.

Postsecondary Data Partnership (PDP) Workshops

Workshops developed to increase your skills and ​knowledge on a variety of PDP topics.

The following workshops are currently being offered:

PDP Workshops

  • Understanding the Postsecondary Data Partnership Institution-Level Dashboards

    The Postsecondary Data Partnership, hosted by the National Student Clearinghouse, is a set of online dashboards that can transform how your institution understands and shares information about student success. These dashboards provide early momentum and outcomes metrics to help stakeholders advance student success and identify equity gaps. This workshop is focused on helping those new to the PDP, or those interested in learning more about the PDP, to better navigate these dashboards and to use this information to improve student outcomes.

  • Using the PDP for Student Retention: Who am I losing and when are they leaving?

    Increasing student retention is one of the most common priorities on an institution’s strategic plan. Federal compliance reporting requirements focus only on first-time, full-time freshmen in retention calculations and exclude transfer and part-time students. Furthermore, reporting only shines a light on one-year retention and graduation, rather than the experience of the full population along the entire student life cycle. Finally, focusing on overall retention trends obscures the experience of underserved student subgroups. The National Student Clearinghouse’s PDP dashboards can help data professionals better understand which students are leaving and when. The workshop provides participants with an understanding of how the PDP can be utilized to explore retention, develop insights, and help effect change.

  • Using the PDP to Support a Student-Centered Continuous Quality Improvement Plan

    Continuous quality improvement (CQI) aims to create measurable improvement in an institution’s efficiency and effectiveness in its operational practices and processes to improve student access, retention, and outcomes. This process is often used in institutional accreditation as evidence of quality processes and in efforts to measure and improve student learning. This workshop provides participants with an understanding of the CQI process, using the PDP to identify a challenge facing a particular student population, constructing an improvement plan, and creating a strategy to share this process and findings with institutional stakeholders to create buy-in and effect change.

Hot Topic Workshops

AIR offers workshops on a variety of topics to share pertinent knowledge for data professionals working in higher education.

Check back regularly for more hot topic workshop options!