As the pressure to obtain quality outcomes data on students and graduates continues, Institutional Research (IR) professionals are tasked with providing support for these demands. Continuous effort is put into the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data used for key research areas such as first destination, mid-career income and industry, salary levels, state of residence, and more.
Swing and Ross (2016) note that IR offices “are nearly ubiquitous across higher education in the United States and are rapidly growing in collegiate settings around the world. Demand for data-informed decisions is high as institutions stretch to produce graduates while operating under economic conditions that require very wise use of resources.”
Today, IR is playing a greater role in how institutions respond to the mounting pressure to present meaningful insight on the value their institution’s degree or certificate programs provide to graduates and the economy. With increased workloads and fewer resources, IR professionals are looking at new ways to unlock graduate outcomes insights.
4 Keys to Unlocking Improved Graduate Outcome Insights
Haskell (2017) reports “The fundamental challenge for those engaged in IR is becoming proactive leaders in data provision and utilization. All societies need meaningful and effective ways of measuring and assessing quality in academic institutions. All stakeholders, internal and external, have a common interest in having access to useful information. The linking of internal interests and information requirements with external interests and needs is an opportunity to improve transparency, accountability and the making of better decisions by all.”
The insights provided by IR professionals are shaping higher education. But, any measure of performance and success needs to start with using quality, accurate data. Below are four key components that should be considered when collecting data to help drive strategic decisions.
It is difficult to make strategic business decisions if examining poor data. Many institutions today are making decisions based on social media searches, outbound call campaigns, limited state-specific databases, and self-reported survey responses, which leave considerable room for irrelevant, dated, or just plain inaccurate results. When data is being used to influence business decisions, accuracy is critical.
The time it takes to corral and analyze self-reported survey data has always been a stumbling block for many institutions. The labor market – and individuals’ employment or salaries – is constantly changing, so information that was accurate a year ago may be drastically different today. Institutions need the ability draw on facts and figures that are current to make informed decisions to improve student success.
3. Longitudinal and historical
Seeing the full picture is better than only parts and pieces. Longitudinal data helps provide a more complete picture of how students are progressing in their careers and benefiting from their education over time.
4. Nationwide coverage
Linking education and wage data is a common goal for institutions, but many are challenged by barriers that limit employment and income data to only graduates that remain in-state. The best way to ensure clarity and accurately assess the ROI of degree programs success is to utilize data sources that can provide information on graduates residing anywhere in the country.
By accessing the largest repository of up-to-date nationwide payroll, income, and credit data from Equifax, there is a tremendous opportunity for IR leaders to deliver better graduate outcome insights. With the ability to pull data that maps to institution-defined measurement attributes (SAT score, campus location, internship completed, and transfer in, etc.) there are hundreds of reporting options to suit most any need.
Contact us today to learn more about going “New School” with grad data.
Swing, R.L. and Ross, L.E. (2016), “A new vision for institutional research”, Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, Vol. 48 No. 2, p.7.
Chester D. Haskell, (2017) “Institutional research as a bridge: Aligning institutional internal data needs and external information requirements a strategic view“, Higher Education Evaluation and Development, Vol. 11 Issue: 1, p.10.
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