2023 AIR Forum Cleveland, Ohio May 28 – June 2, 2023

Pre-Conference Education

Pre-conference educational opportunities were offered as multi-day, full-day, and half-day sessions on Monday, May 29, and Tuesday, May 30. Topics ranged from the development of specific skills to approaches to institution-wide needs. Seats were limited, and additional fees were required (AIR member and nonmember prices are listed for each offering).




Please note: All times are listed in U.S. Eastern Time Zone. Workshop pricing is displayed as (member/nonmember). 

Monday, May 29 – Tuesday, May 30

Multi-Day Bootcamp (Monday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. to Tuesday 8–11:30 a.m.)

  • IR Bootcamp: Foundation for any IR Professional ($560/$670)

    Bethany Miller, Director of Institutional Research & Assessment, Macalester College 

    Institutional research professionals are subject matter experts who help stakeholders answer questions in pursuit of data-informed decision making. IR professionals are more than just curators of information—we are partners in discovery, which requires helping institutional colleagues clarify goals and refine questions in addition to the analysis of data, making sense of results, communicating findings, and generating insights. This workshop is an intensive exploration of IR’s agency in data-informed decision cultures and highlights the skills required to be effective in this field. It is an extension of AIR’s successful virtual Foundations series and an essential experience for any IR professional. This highly interactive workshop starts with a question and sees an IR project through to its culmination. Workshop elements include principles of research design, survey design, descriptive statistics, effective reporting and communication, and translating findings into recommendations.

    As a result of this bootcamp, participants will be able to:

    • Understand common data-related higher education terminology
    • Identify a research design appropriate to address stated research questions.
    • Understand quantitative and qualitative data collection techniques, sampling, and testing for reliability and validity.
    • Construct a high-quality survey and conduct proper validity tests on the survey instrument
    • Identify and conduct proper descriptive statistics to best summarize research findings
    • Create effective visualizations and reports to community findings.

Multi-Day Workshop (Monday 12:30–4 p.m. to Tuesday 8–11:30 a.m.)

  • How to Effectively Manage Your Office ($310/$360)

    Jim Lenio, Associate Director for Institutional Research, The University of Tennessee; Darlena Jones, Senior Director of Analytics, Research & Education, Association for Institutional Research

    Many IR/IE professionals are promoted into managerial positions because they are good at their job. But in many cases, these newly minted office leaders are not provided with training to effectively manage their office. In this workshop, we share common managerial and operational strategies needed to direct the activities of an IR/IE office. We will discuss the mindset shift needed to move from an individual contributor to being a team or office leader and provide strategies related to managing direct reports, overseeing staff work, staff retention, hiring, and budgeting. Come to this workshop if you are a new office leader, or have recently grown the size of your office, so you can get off to a great start!

    As a result of this workshop, participants can:

    • Discuss the shift in mindset needed to move from an IR/IE staff member to the office leader.
    • Discuss management techniques like staff hiring, staff retention, managing office workload, and budgeting.
    • Discuss the difference in strategies between office staff management and “managing up”.
    • Discuss how to adapt/adopt the knowledge shared in this workshop to their unique IR/IE office setting.

Monday, May 29

Monday Full-Day (8 a.m. – 4 p.m.)

  • Best Practices for Reporting and Using IPEDS Data to Improve Office Efficiencies ($25)

    This 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.

    Requirement: Participants are required to bring a laptop with wireless capability and Microsoft Excel.

  • Beyond Compliance: How to Use IPEDS Data to Examine Student and Institutional Success ($25)

    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.

    Requirement: Participants are required to bring a laptop with wireless capability and Microsoft Excel.

Monday Half-day Afternoon (12:30–4 p.m.)

  • Assessment 101: A Step-by-Step Guide for Non-Academic Unit Assessment ($160/$185)

    Nasrin Fatima, Associate Provost for Assessment and Analytics, Binghamton University

    Although student learning is directly affected by instruction in the classroom, it is indirectly affected by the processes, services, and resources of the operational/administrative support units of an institution. Because these units have great impact on the environment and tools of the classrooms, the goals/objectives of these units must be assessed on a continuous basis. However, many institutions struggle to create a culture of non-academic unit assessment that is systematic, organized, and sustainable. Misconceptions about what assessment is and how administrative unit assessment is relevant to the overarching effectiveness institutional mission, goals, and objectives are the principal barriers to this. This workshop will provide step-by-step guidelines to create a framework for developing and successfully implementing an organized, systematic, and sustainable non-academic unit assessment geared to improve institutional effectiveness.

    As a result of this workshop, participants will be able to:

    • Design a learning outcomes assessment process for non-academic units.
    • Distinguish between learning outcomes and operational outcomes.
    • Write measurable and meaningful learning/operational outcomes and implement them at non-academic unit level assessment.
  • Show me the numbers: Sharing Data with Stakeholders ($160/$185)

    Amy Pilcher, Assistant Professor of Business, Wartburg College

    Any person working with research data should understand how to share that data. From formal reports to college websites to dashboards, data visualizations help to tell our story. However, when data visualizations don’t follow specific design rules there can be confusion in the communication of and interpretation of the underlying data. Additionally, the wrong choice of visual can manipulate and skew the data in unethical ways. This session will look at various reporting tools for data while discussing data visualization design rules, universal design, rules of accessibility for data reporting and website visualizations, and UX (user-experience design).

    As a result of this workshop, participants will be able to:

    • Describe principles of data storytelling.
    • Describe universal design and accessibility rules for data visualization.
    • Analyze scenarios using the theories and principles presented, as well as their own professional experience.
  • Using Concept Mapping to Build an Interface to Institutional Knowledge ($160/$185)

    Graham Glynn, Professor and former Provost, Radford University

    During this workshop participants will learn the basics of concept mapping and how it can be used to create a powerful yet intuitive interface to comprehensive information about their institutions and to back-end data systems. A community developed, open-source and creative commons licensed template (Sentient) will be provided, demonstrated, and used to begin construction of each participant's institutional model. These models empower the ability to conceptualize and appraise the complex, intertwined operations of the institution (the view from the balcony): Support informed decision making, institutional research, effective assessment, and strategic planning: Enable transparent evolution management and access to huge libraries of inter-institutionally shared metrics and tactics: and easily and effectively integrate all existing browser accessible sources of data into a single comprehensive institutional knowledgebase.

    As a result of this workshop, participants will be able to:

    • Demonstrate how concept-mapping and modelling can be used to build a powerful interface to institutional knowledge and data.
    • Apply knowledge management and decision support practices to solve real World challenges.
    • Construct a system to support integrative thinking and explain how it can benefit their institution.
    • Tap into a World-wide multi-institutional set of resources to support their roles.
    • Evaluate the potential utility of adopting this approach at their institution.

    Note: Participants are required to bring a laptop with wireless capability.


Tuesday, May 30

Tuesday Half-Day Morning (8–11:30 a.m.)

  • Creating Data Visualizations to Tell Your Cost and Productivity Story ($160/$185)

    Marcia Preston, Manager of The Cost Study at UD, Higher Education Consortia, University of Delaware; Jennifer Snyder, Director, Higher Education Consortia, University of Delaware

    Do your senior leaders know how much it costs to deliver instruction? Are your deans looking for data-informed ways to provide more instructional support to academic programs? Are you tasked with including visualizations and peer data in academic program reviews?

    Having access to your institution’s data is only the first step in understanding your program-level instructional costs and productivity. The next step is transforming that data into thought-provoking, informative data visualizations.

    This workshop reviews key principles of effective visualizations, explains how The Cost Study helps answer the above questions, and shows how other institutions use Cost Study reports. Participants will also practice quickly creating visualizations that tell the data story for your institution. Past participation in The Cost Study is not necessary. Join us to learn some best practices of data communication and improve your ability to create visualizations that will engage and inform stakeholders!

    As a result of this workshop, participants will be able to:

    • Understand the key principles of effective data visualization.
    • Understand the importance of utilizing program-specific comparative data when making instructional cost and productivity decisions at their institutions.
    • To apply and analyze a complex dataset to create visualizations for accreditation reports, annual program reviews, and other decision-making scenarios at their institutions.

    Note: Participants are required to bring a laptop with wireless capability and Microsoft Excel and Tableau installed.

  • Data and Analytic Literacy: Your Role Leading the Institution to Success (SOLD OUT)

    Jason Simon, Associate Vice President - Data, Analytics, and IR, University of North Texas; Loralyn Taylor, Associate Provost for Institutional Effectiveness and Analytics, Ohio University

    The joint statement by AIR, Educause, & NACUBO lays forth a clear challenge to act now. One major challenge in maturing analytic landscapes is the gap between IR methods and tools and the knowledge and data literacy of decision makers to harness and trust these approaches. This gap can lead to lost opportunities, distrust of analytic/data approaches. Using a theoretical framework of executive data literacy, this workshop provides attendees with an understanding of the core concepts of data literacy, analytic maturity, and analytic culture. Attendees will also learn how to address common pitfalls and how to navigate these for success. After assessing their own campus data maturity, attendees will use these concepts to build an action plan of short-term and long-term strategies to begin to impact student and institutional success.

    As a result of this workshop, participants will be able to:

    • Understand and apply the key concepts for a framework of Data and Analytic Maturity.
    • Jumpstart plans to enhance their local campus communities’ use of data and analytics.
    • Assess their own campus maturity and readiness for analytic and data literacy.
    • Develop a specific action plan that is tailored to their unique campus situation, culture, and maturity level.
    • Articulate the value proposition for data literacy and analytic maturity.

    Note: Participants are required to bring a laptop with Microsoft Excel installed.


  • I Have a New Job in Institutional Research…Now What? ($160/$185)

    Jessica Shedd, Assistant Provost for Assessment and Institutional Research, Tulane University; Shama Akhtar, Director of Institutional Effectiveness, Goucher College

    This informative and interactive workshop is designed for individuals who are new to the field of institutional research. We review the typical roles and responsibilities associated with IR, highlight useful resources, and learn how to develop connections with others in the field.

    As a result of this workshop, participants will be able to:

    • Understand common projects and responsibilities in institutional research.
    • Identify useful resources to aid their work and professional development.
    • Develop relationships with other professionals in the IR field.
  • IPEDS Data and Benchmarking: Supporting Decision Making and Institutional Effectiveness ($25)

    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.

    Requirement: Participants are required to bring a laptop with wireless capability and Microsoft Excel.

  • IPEDS Student Financial Aid Training ($25)

    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. 

    Requirement: Participants are required to bring a laptop with wireless capability and Microsoft Excel.

  • Telling Student Stories: Qualitative Data and Mixed Methods in IR ($160/$185)

    Natasha Jankowski, Senior Fellow, Community Colleges, Strada Education Network

    This workshop provides an overview and introduction to qualitative and mixed methods approaches that incorporate student voice in IR/IE and assessment. To better tell student stories, the workshop provides context, methods, and resources along with opportunities to practice and plan for local implementation for those interested in finding ways to include more student voice and perspective into the IR process. Together, we will explore the importance of qualitative research in data storytelling and outline easy ways to incorporate qualitative research into your own IR/IE and assessment work.

    As a result of this workshop, participants will be able to:

    • Explore a range of methods and techniques for generating qualitative and mixed methods data including interviews, surveys, observations, focus groups, and participatory methods.
    • Outline how to apply different methods and approaches to their own institutional context and practice.
    • Understand the role of student voice in IR and how to engage students more broadly.
    • Consider the strengths and challenges of different methods and student inclusion approaches for IR.
  • The Art and Science of Enrollment Forecasting (SOLD OUT)

    Chris Orem, Director of Institutional Research, James Madison University

    In this workshop, participants will be introduced to an enrollment forecasting model used to project enrollments at a large (20,000+) public university for almost 20 years. Adaptable to institutions of any size, the model, which is based in Excel, can help institutions forecast future enrollments using historical data and sound reasoning. The model is not designed to project how many new students will attend an institution, but rather, how they progress, hopefully to graduation. Attendees will receive a template to use with their institution’s data and receive examples of how results are shared across campus.

    As a result of this workshop, participants will be able to:

    • Identify guidelines to consider when implementing an enrollment forecasting model
    • Explain the logic behind the forecasting model employed by the presenter’s institution
    • Adapt the model to their own institutions
    • Identify various strategies to communicate the information effectively to stakeholders
  • The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS): Leveraging IPEDS data for insights and action ($25)

    Aida Ali Akreyi, Data Collection Lead and Finance Survey Director, National Center for Education Statistics; Christopher Cody, Principal Researcher, American Institutes for Research; Roman Ruiz, Researcher, American Institutes for Research

    Understanding how to use IPEDS data tools is one way institutional researchers and others can create data reports about their institution(s), as well as compare their institution(s) to other institutions. This session is appropriate for anyone with a basic understanding of IPEDS and an interest in using the web-based data tools developed by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). IPEDS team members will demonstrate the functionality of IPEDS data tools using real-world higher education use cases. The presentation will focus specifically on newly improved tools including Summary Tables, Trend Generator, and others. In addition, participants will learn how to create, upload, and save institution groups and variables for future use, including how to take an existing institution group (e.g., custom comparison group) and incorporate it in IPEDS data tools. Participants will have a hands-on opportunity, under the direct support of IPEDS staff, to apply their learning about IPEDS data tools to investigate provided use cases or their own problems of practice specific to their institutions.

    As a result of this workshop, participants will be able to:

    • Learn about the available NCES web-based tools for using IPEDS data
    • Apply their understanding of NCES data tools to address higher education problems of practice using IPEDS data