institutional research & Assessment

higher education Decision-making

The certificate program provides students with a comprehensive overview of applied research and assessment for institutional planning and policy-making. Students will become familiar with major higher education policy issues, identify critical decisions made by college administrators (including financial decisions), gain knowledge about relevant data resources, learn how assessment is used to improve program and institutional quality, and gain familiarity with qualitative and quantitative research methods used by institutional researchers to shape policy and evaluate programs.Throughout the course, students will learn about the critical role institutional researchers and assessment professionals play in promoting evidence-based decision-making, strengthening the operation of colleges/universities, enhancing academic quality, and complying with governmental and non-governmental reporting requirements.

Eight sessions. Date: TBD
Registration is Closed

Program Overview
Session One: An Overview of Higher Education Policy and Research in the United States
Faculty: Jeff Apfel
The session aims to frame the rest of the program by grounding students in higher education historical trends and current policy issues. We explore historical and current conceptions of who should go to college, what they should learn, and what counts as success.

Session Two: Institutional Research
Faculty: Michael Ayers
An introduction to the practice of Institutional Research: This session focuses on the practical application of Institutional Research and the role that it plays in support of institutional planning, policy formation and decision making in institutions of higher education. We broadly cover topics such as the history of institutional research in higher education, enrollment management, areas of planning and support, tools and techniques, the emerging field of institutional effectiveness, dashboards and benchmarking, predictive analytics, data warehousing, data mining, and several case studies demonstrating the analytics conducted by institutional research. The session gives higher education administrators and individuals seeking a career in institutional research a broad overview of the field of institutional research.

Session Three: Accreditation and Compliance
Faculty: Cheryl Littman
In this session, we will review and discuss: 1)The purpose of institutional accreditation; 2) The history and mission of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), one of six regional accrediting bodies in the US; 3) The self-study and peer review processes used to accredit institutions; 4) The 14 standards required for MSCHE accreditation, with strong emphasis on standards 7 (Institutional Assessment) and 14, (Assessment of Student Learning); 5) The role institutional research plays in process of continuous improvement; and 6) New requirements for reporting Verification of Compliance.

Session Four: Effective assessment of academic and non-academic programs
Faculty: Mosen Auryan
Regional accreditation agencies are continuously increasing their demand for higher education academic and non-academic programs to articulate and evaluate student learning outcomes. Many professionals in higher education, however, find it difficult to translate their contributions into concrete evidence of authentic evaluation. As a result, poorly designed student surveys with very low response rates remain the most prevalent form in evaluation in many colleges and universities. This presentation attempts to address three important questions about evaluation: why higher education professionals have difficulty implementing authentic evaluation mechanisms?, what kind of paradigm offers the pathway to efficient and effective frameworks to serve students?; what mechanisms (in addition to surveys) are there to address efficiency-effectiveness questions?

Following a brief introduction, we discuss and compare two interpretations of student learning outcomes applicable to higher education organizations, restrictive vs. broad definition. While the former interpretation limits one’s ability to conduct authentic evaluation, the latter opens up many possibilities to ask meaningful evaluation questions. Relying on the broader interpretation of students learning outcomes, the class is introduced to a segmentation paradigm for categorizing students based on their needs and motivations. Specific strategies will be introduced for developing meaningful evaluation questions within each category.

Session Five: Higher Education Finance
Faculty: Colin Chellman
The primary objective of the finance session is to teach you how to use financial information to make decisions in higher education institutions. We review the basics of budgeting and reporting, including depreciation, capital vs. operating budgets, and fund accounting.
This session looks at finance as a process. The process begins with the development of a plan for the future. The plan is then implemented. Actions are taken to control operations to keep to the plan. Results of operations are then reported, and those results are analyzed. The first half of the session focuses on developing, implementing, and controlling the plan, the development of operating budgets, tools for short-term decision-making, and tools for capital budgeting decisions. The material in the first half of the session is often referred to as managerial accounting. The second half of the session focuses on summarizing and reporting the organization’s financial position and the results of its operations. There is heavy emphasis on how the information in financial statements can be used by managers. This half of the course covers material often referred to as financial accounting.

Session Six: Using a Logic Model for Research and Assessment
Faculty: Mosen Auryan
An introduction to the Logic Models: This session examines the practical application of educational research tailored to your research needs. A useful starting point for conducting educational research of your programs or departmental components is the Logic Model. Before you begin to conduct research it is important to have a clear description of your program or departmental activities and an explicit understanding of expected outcomes that emerge from those activities. A Logic Model is a diagram which maps the major components of your work, how these components are linked, and the expected products or outcomes that materialize from your efforts. Furthermore, this visual representation of your work makes it much easier to formulate questions and hypotheses in your research efforts. Upon completion of this session, you can construct your own logical model, and use it to conduct research on an aspect of your work.

Session Seven: Research Methodology
Faculty:  Tara Twiste
In this session, participants are introduced to research methods that are most frequently used by institutional researchers.  Before the introduction of research methods, typical higher education data system (student, finance, and human resources), and data collecting methods are overviewed. Specific policy issues are presented and addressed by applying relevant research methods such as cluster analysis, multiple regression, factor analysis, and multivariate analysis. The session doesn’t presuppose prior background in statistics and serves and a bridge to developing further efforts in learning advanced research methods.

Session Eight: Managing Change in Higher Education
Faculty: David Crook
Institutions of higher education must continually change to meet internal and external challenges.  Among the many forces for change are political, regulatory and fiscal pressures, trends in student demographics and academic preparation, technological innovation, changes in the labor market, press coverage, and competition from other institutions of higher education and from worldwide platforms of education.  These forces require administrative and academic leaders to manage change on campus.   This session covers the forces for change, successful leadership strategies for reshaping the institution, and the implications for institutional researchers, who must provide information crucial to effective decision support.    

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