Special Features

  • Article Featured
  • 10.16.19

Adopting an Analytics Culture: Institutions Share Their Journeys

  • by eAIR

For most higher education institutions, the transformation to an analytics culture is truly aSee the Joint Statement on analytics from AIR | EDUCAUSE | NACUBO. journey. The recently released joint statement, Analytics can save higher education. Really., a shared call to action from The Association for Institutional Research (AIR), EDUCAUSE, and the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), creates a roadmap for this crucial journey. The statement outlines six core principles all institutions can thoughtfully use in their quest to adopt and embrace a culture of analytics:

  1. Go big –– Make an institutional commitment to analytics.
  2. Invest what you can –– You can’t afford not to.
  3. Analytics is a team sport –– Build your dream team.
  4. Analytics has real impact on real people –– Avoid the pitfalls.
  5. Prepare –– Be ready for some detours on the road to success.
  6. Tick-tock, tick-tock –– The time to act is now.

Some forward-thinking institutions are already in the process of transforming their institutional culture to focus on increasing the success of all students. The stories they share can help institutions start –– and continue –– the conversation about the power of analytics.

At Bowie State University (BSU) in Maryland, the analytics journey is just beginning. BSU has an increasing demand for data and analytics to inform campus-wide decision making, but only very basic tools and a small staff to fill those needs. They are using the recently released AIR/EDUCAUSE/NACUBO joint statement to provide guidance for their conversations on the importance of analytics to better understand their students; to increase retention, progression, and graduation; and to improve the student experience. As they are in the infancy of this process, the focus is on developing and engaging champions (Analytics is a Team Sport: Build your Dream Team), as well as using the growing sense of urgency (Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock: The time to act is now) to help address the critical needs of the institution.

Shama Akhtar, Director of Institutional Research at Bowie State said, “It is not just an IR, IT, or a business officer issue, but a collaborative issue that impacts the entire institution. Institutions need to have the hard discussions with all the players at the table, so that we can have a substantive movement of the needle.”

In Washington state, The University of Puget Sound is also in the early stages of their analytics journey. Ellen Peters, Associate Provost for Institutional Research, Planning and Student Success at Puget Sound said, “We have moved toward analytics in fits and starts. Operating under the principles of the joint analytics statement, we now have a clearer path ahead –– particularly with regard to institutional commitment and the importance of clear, measurable outcomes.”

Through an institutional commitment, Puget Sound has made space for a staff member in Institutional Research (IR) to spend two days a week working with the Technology Services team to ensure that the way data structures are being set up will lead to analytics output consistent with their clear and measurable outcomes. IR is able to maintain autonomy, while at the same time collaborating deeply with technology staff to build not only analytics capacity, but usability, at the university. The institution has committed to this work by reallocating administrative and support work in IR to offices that are tangential to IR, allowing their expertise to be integrated into the development of analytics work. 

Higher education leaders can make a difference by harnessing the power and promise of data and analytics for better decisions and then carrying out strategic plans to support these decisions.

For more information about Analytics Can Save Higher Education. Really. and to start your analytics journey, read the full statement at changewithanalytics.com/statement.

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