Board Corner

  • Board Corner
  • 03.17.21

The IR Narrative: Telling People’s Stories through Data and Analytics

  • by Heather A. Kelly, AIR President

We learned recently from the AIR Stakeholder Survey that dashboards and data visualizations, communicating and effective presentations, and data analytics are the top areas of skills, abilities, and knowledge needed to be effective and advance careers in the next five years. This sounds like the perfect toolkit to effectively tell people’s stories through data and analytics.

There are countless ways institutional research uses data to demonstrate the impact higher education has on people’s lives. From access and affordability to student outcomes and our alumni’s achievements, we have inspirational stories to tell. It is important to keep in mind that telling stories with data cannot be done in silos. It is imperative that we work across program areas and collaborate with both academic and administrative units, as well as our professional networks.

The IR narrative is one of progress. Every day, our IR/IE colleagues are contextualizing data across their campuses and throughout higher education, as well as evaluating the effectiveness of their institutions. Often data and information lead to additional questions, insights, and research. One measure of success is that the conversation has begun, awareness has been elevated, and people are listening and paying attention to important and often complex issues within our institutions. And, the true value of institutional research in catalyzing meaningful change for students and institutions is realized.

Right now many of us are being asked to help create the diversity and equity narrative at our institutions to create awareness of historic injustice and inspire actions that result in more equitable structures, processes, and outcomes. This type of story-telling with data can be complex and difficult, with competing perspectives and the need to elevate marginalized voices. The upcoming Coffee Chat on April 6 will engage us in discussion that should help us with this important and visible work. This Coffee Chat will feature Dr. Tia Brown McNair. Dr. McNair is the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Student Success at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and co-author of “From Equity Talk to Equity Walk”. Dr. McNair will highlight topics from her book including where institutional research and institutional effectiveness fit in. The presentation and Q&A with Dr. McNair will be followed by breakout discussion groups hosted by the AIR Board of Directors. Please join us! And don’t forget to register for the AIR Forum Virtual for four days of engagement opportunities like this!

I hope you enjoy this edition of eAIR where we get to see first-hand how our IR/IE colleagues are moving higher education forward by telling people’s stories through data and analytics.

Coffee Chat with Author Tia McNair: A DEI Discussion AIR Forum Virtual - Registration is Open
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