Cultivating a Culture of Inquiry and Evidence

Rigoberto Rincones-Gómez is Associate Vice President, Division of Institutional Research, Planning and Effectiveness, at Broward College. 

Interview by Leah Ewing Ross 

Rigoberto Rincones-Gomez.jpgAs part of Broward College’s commitment to a culture of inquiry and evidence, Dr. Rincones-Gómez is implementing The Data Ambassadors Initiative. eAIR spoke with him to learn more about this unique approach. 

eAIR: Please provide a brief description of The Data Ambassadors Initiative. 

When I joined Broward College in 2011, President J. David Armstrong engaged me in a conversation about ways to continue to build our internal institutional research capacity and address the institution’s high demand for data. In response to his request, I proposed that we create a cohort-based education program that could empower faculty, administrators, and front line staff to use student-outcomes data and make sound, informed decisions. The Data Ambassadors Initiative was born.  

This team-based approach fosters personal relationships among colleagues where collaboration is a critical component. The cohorts are comprised of people with different backgrounds and positions on campus, including IR. The AIR Data and Decisions® Academy course Student Success Through the Lens of the Data is the initial step in the process, and national experts lead subsequent in-house training sessions (specified as Activities in the logic model). We are growing our capacity of skilled users of data and information who share their knowledge with other members of the college community. We are empowering and guiding data ambassadors to zero in on the commonly asked questions behind requests for data, which in turn, helps them make their own analyses more effective and efficient.  

eAIR: What communication tools are essential in a culture of inquiry and evidence? 

When presenting data and analyses, you have to know your audience. Your colleagues in IR may want to review your entire report. Deans appreciate condensed versions of those reports. Vice presidents seek executive summaries. With presidents, you have 30 seconds to communicate your point. It is essential to master the art of the 1-page presentation that contains a title, a short purpose statement (1-2 sentences), 3 bullets that highlight key information, and a graph or table.  

eAIR: What informs and inspires your work? 

I look for inspiration on LinkedIn and Twitter because I think we learn best when interacting with others. I am curious about the thinking behind everything, such as the thinking behind technology. Rather than focusing only on the how-to of technology, it is important to understand the rationale that informs advances in technology in order to adapt to rapid change in that arena. 

Also, I love to read, and I always have a book in my briefcase and eBooks when I am traveling. On weekends, my wife, daughter, and I read together at the beach (besides playing sports). One book that inspired me to think differently was A Whole New Mind (D. Pink). More recently, President Armstrong asked his leadership team to read The 4 Disciplines of Execution by C. McChesney, S. Covey, and J. Huling, and all four principles are now being implemented with great success here at Broward. 

eAIR: What makes you smile? 

Ingenuity, originality, passion, and creativity make me smile. Children, for example, are comfortable experimenting without the so-called parameters or limitations of adulthood. Think of the songs children create and perform in the moment. I love those qualities in children, and it is wonderful to find them in adults, especially among colleagues who are willing to take risks. This is why I always stop, watch, listen, enjoy, and tip street performers when I see them. It is so nice to see people who love what they do and also have the courage to put themselves out there and share their passion with others. I guess we all have something in common such as loving what we do and enjoying sharing that knowledge and passion with others.  

Click here for more information about the Broward College Data Ambassador Initiative.