As part of ongoing efforts to empower the UP campus community with information that facilitates everyone’s work towards fulfilling the university’s mission, the Office of Institutional Research would like to share important data information periodically throughout the school year.
Q. What does the Office of Institutional Research do?
A. At UP, the IR Office strives to empower stakeholders with data that helps them make informed decisions to support the institution’s mission.
Here are examples of what goes on in a typical day at UP:
Large chunks of the day are spent meeting to discuss research projects with faculty and staff. We review existing data tools to help stakeholders figure out what data they can use to best support students. We collaborate with colleagues on how to gather data to build a database that answers questions about alumni experiences. We consult with departments interested in updating their unit’s strategic planning processes and highlighting their accomplishments. We share data with those interested in hearing the latest updates on how well our students are engaging in leadership opportunities and developing their leadership abilities.
Another considerable portion of the day is spent hunkering down to engage in data wrangling and data sensemaking. Data collection doesn’t inherently yield something informative. It takes time to analyze and interpret the story the data is conveying. We aim to be objective reporters of information, yet also remain sensitive to the needs of data consumers. This means being transparent in how data was processed by sharing the technical processes behind the final product, before suggesting any data observations and conclusions. An informed data consumer ultimately makes the call on what the data is saying and how best to utilize it.
Other parts of the day include a lot of different, related tasks. Data is always evolving, and without thoughtful curating, the data gets messy as it is collected. The IR Office works with colleagues across campus to advocate for improved data governance. When folks have access to relevant, reliable data, then data-informed decisions can be made with confidence. Now the IR Office has established an internal Pilots portal space with additional data resources such as the IR Office’s strategic plan, accreditation reports, and internal data dashboards. Additionally, there are many external parties that request data. Every school has an IR Office that is completing these large external data requests from the U.S. News & World Report college rankings, the federal government, the local newspaper, and the NCAA, just to name a few. Lastly, there are all the different questions that get sent to the office. How many students are from North Portland? How can we use grades data to better understand where students are experiencing academic barriers? How does UP’s faculty to student ratio compare with other peer schools?
What questions and projects are YOU working on? And how can IR help?