AIR Forum Virtual

Featured Sessions

Featured sessions are the highest rated concurrent sessions (from the session review process) and have a compelling topic of high interest. These session videos were recorded and produced by our AV production company, and some were sponsored.


Tuesday, May 25, 2021

1:55–2:35 p.m. ET

Holistic Data Approach to Improving the First-Year Student Success

Kristin Buscher, Creighton University, Tim Borchers, Peru State College, Susanne Williams, Peru State College

It is well known that the first year of college can be an overwhelming transitional experience for students. The first-year experience is further complicated for students entering open-enrollment institutions because many students are academically under-prepared, come from low socio-economic backgrounds, and are first-generation. How can an open-enrollment institution best support these students?  Data are the key. This case study explores how a small regional, open-enrollment, four-year public institution developed a data-informed plan to improve the first-year experience of students most at-risk. Informed by quantitative and qualitative data, the college identified at-risk students, proactively implemented personalized intervention strategies, and made changes to policies and procedures to improve the first-year student experience. Attendees will learn about the data that were collected and used, what strategies were put into place, who was involved, and lessons learned. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

3:15–3:55 p.m. ET

Data Storytelling: Writing Effective Reports that Interpret Data 

Jeffrey Simmons, Mount St. Mary's University

Increasingly, IR professionals are expected to go beyond the basic data report filled with tables and use their expertise and experience to interpret the data. As the quantity of readily available data increases, senior leaders are depending more heavily on their researchers to help them understand data and use the information more effectively. Data storytelling is one approach to creating effective interpretive reports that are tailored to a specific audience. The objectives of this speaker session are to (1) enable the participants to use the concise, four-part storytelling framework and (2) develop their data interpretation skills. The storytelling approach results in a rich, compelling, and focused message that readers will find relevant and useful. The four key steps are to know your audience, identify the story’s dilemma, establish the setting, and focus on the moral of the story. At the end of the session, participants will have the tools to write an effective interpretive report. 

Sponsored by: Watermark


Tuesday, May 25, 2021

4:00–4:40 p.m. ET

Markov Model with Survey Data to Project Enrollment During the Pandemic

Eric Yang, George Washington University, Dantong Yang, George Washington University

The Markov model has been popular in higher education for enrollment projection. However, the model can be ineffective if there is a sudden, large impact on the system, such as the Covid-19 pandemic. In this presentation, we demonstrate how confidential survey data are utilized to modify the transition matrix of the model, how to evaluate the impact of the pandemic on enrollment through survey, and how to project the enrollment with a higher accuracy. We will introduce the model construction and data process in this presentation. We will also analyze and discuss the projection results and findings in detail. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

1:40–2:20 p.m. ET

The Value of a College Degree: Alumni Earnings Data and Their Uses

Shannon Lee, Penn State, Karen Vance, The Pennsylvania State University, David Troutman, University of Texas System, Jocelyn Milner, University of Wisconsin – Madison

As enrollments decline across the country amidst a shift to online learning, a global pandemic, high levels of unemployment, a recession, and a $1.6 trillion student-loan-debt crisis, students are asking themselves the question: is it worth it to go to college? This panel presentation will explore how The Pennsylvania State University, The University of Texas System, and The University of Wisconsin-Madison were able to acquire local and national longitudinal alumni employment and earnings information and the use cases for these data at their respective institutions.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

2:25–3:05 p.m. ET

Equity by Design: A Strategy for Mitigating Equity Gaps in Student Success 

Priyank Shah, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, Office of Equity & Inclusion, Tarrence Robertson, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, Office of Equity & Inclusion, Josefina Landrieu, Metropolitan State University

This session presents information about Equity by Design (EbD), which is a momentous strategy to advance equity in student success across Minnesota State’s network of 37 colleges and universities. EbD is an evidence-based framework and methodology for systematically engaging faculty, staff, and administrators in understanding the institution’s role in shaping student-outcomes disparities between racial and indigenous student populations. Discussion will focus on providing an overview of using the EbD approaches to impact academic outcomes, challenges and successes encountered, lessons learned, and practical considerations for other institutions to consider in pursuing data-informed equity and inclusion work. Tools and resources developed by Minnesota State’s Office of Equity and Inclusion will also be shared.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

4:20–5:20 p.m. ET

Transformational IR for Student Success and Equity

David Troutman, University of Texas System, Jonathan Gagliardi, CUNY, Gina Johnson, National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, Amelia Parnell, NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, Colleen Wynn, Claremont McKenna College, Morgan Taylor, American Council on Education

Institutional Research (IR) has historically been tasked with fulfilling reporting requirements and information requests that are often transactional. This has changed more recently in light of the ongoing analytics revolution, which has highlighted the need for a more intentional approach to producing and using rigorous evidence to support student success, equity, and institutional effectiveness. In light of these developments, IR is being asked to shift from a transactional function to a transformational one. Using lessons learned from a recent edition of New Directions in Institutional Research, this session unpacks how IR functions have managed their new, more global role with a focus on change leadership, strategy, and actions at the intersection of student success, equity, and sustainability.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

1:40–2:20 p.m. ET

Using Design Thinking to Enhance Data Literacy

Ashley Hurand, University of Arizona, Jessica Gerlach, University of Arizona, Lauren Isely, University of Arizona, Nick Letson, University of Arizona

University Analytics & Institutional Research (UAIR) strives to give the University of Arizona an institutional advantage through outstanding data services built on accessibility and accuracy. Over the past several years, UAIR has worked to improve data availability but recognizes that data can be difficult to consume, even when readily available. Because of that, UAIR has employed design-thinking principles to help develop new tools and improved resources to enhance data literacy around key institutional metrics. This presentation will cover design thinking and data literacy concepts, as well as four specific examples of how UAIR has used design thinking to improve data literacy, with the ultimate goal of enhancing decision-making capacity to help further the mission of the institution.

Sponsored by: National Student Clearinghouse

National Student Clearinghouse

Thursday, May 27, 2021

1:40–2:40 p.m. ET

The Proposed Federal SLDN: We Want Your Input

David Troutman, University of Texas System, Josh Pretlow, RTI International, Amanda Roberson, Institute for Higher Education Policy, Jamie Isaac, RTI International, Bethany Miller, Macalester College

There are currently three proposed bills that, if passed, would create a federal student-level data network (SLDN) that mandates the reporting of individual student-level data by institutions. Although the legislation is specific in some requirements, it also defers to NCES to determine the precise structure, governance, technology, and data definitions in the implementation and regulatory processes. This session will present work undertaken to translate the legislation into specific data elements and possible collection models in order to encourage participation and elicit feedback. Two institutional representatives will provide feedback, and then we will solicit audience input.