Institutional Research & Planning Blog

Compton Center – Research Brown Bag Digest – November 2016

November’s session featured a much more interactive and discussion-based format than previous Research Brown Bags have, so there is not much to recap in this month’s blog post. We mostly provided a presentation that included a few activities, models, and discussion questions related to our institutional data processes and how they may be related to any given stakeholder.

The November session started with a brief activity regarding how first-time students are defined in the data (and how this may be different than our personal definitions). This was followed by a demonstration of how the information in Reporting Services and Data Mart may show slightly different numbers from each other, based on their specific definitions of first-time students.

Several of the discussion questions involved getting feedback from attendees about all the different types of data we collect and use in our departments, and we appreciate being able to learn about the issues that were most directly related to your work with institutional data. Likewise, we asked about the various software and data sources that are used in each area, and this information is also helpful in troubleshooting and getting the “big picture” of our institutional data processes.

We also presented a few visual aids to go along with the data querying demonstrations. For the most part, these were relatively simple models depicting people in the data process, how one piece of data may combine several different sources (e.g., core service completion), and how some of the information that isn’t directly available from our databases goes through a number of steps before we can provide it (e.g., course success rates).

Because of how informative this session was for both the researchers and attendees alike, we are planning to make this the topic of the December Research Brown Bag as well. So, please inform your colleagues, especially if they work on the data entry for your department or program, or if anyone is genuinely interested in hearing about where institutional data comes from and how it is categorized and processed.

Compton Center – Research Brown Bag Digest – October 2016

Due to unforeseen circumstances, we took a slight detour for the October session. This session was held in a computer lab, and we took the opportunity to cover the Professional Learning Network.

The Professional Learning Network (PLN) is a one-stop shop for a variety of resources available to anyone working in community colleges. That means all California Community College faculty, staff, administrators, and trustees have access to these resources, which range from detailed articles about upcoming statewide initiatives, to strategies and best practices offered by other community colleges, to brief video tutorials covering a number of software and professional development topics.

One major benefit of the PLN is that these resources are shared throughout the California Community College system, and they are created by other professionals working in community colleges across the state. Briefly, here is a walkthrough of the PLN site:

The Resources page is the primary way to find information in the form of articles, presentations, models, and templates shared by other community college professionals. You can search for materials by category or by specific tags. This is also where the Acronym Dictionary is located. If you ever wondered what something like “IEPI” stands for, the PLN provides an explanation and a link to the appropriate webpage.

The Learn page is where PLN members can take advantage of some of the partnerships with training services. Primarily, the Learn page gives you free access to (an extensive library of detailed instructional videos on various software tools and skills) and Grovo (a library of short “micro” video lessons covering a number of software tools and services as well as general professional development).

The Connect page is a web forum, offering the opportunity to post a topic and discuss with other professionals on the PLN.

The Speakers Directory is a curated list of speakers who have given (usually keynote) presentations at various California Community College conferences and events. If you’re looking for a particular speaker or someone to speak on a particular topic, you may be able to find details and contact information here.

The Calendar lists all previous and upcoming events that are relevant to California Community College professionals. These include various conferences, meetings, and workshops, and you can find more information about any given event by clicking its entry on the calendar. Likewise, you can submit events to the calendar yourself if you’d like the announcement to reach PLN users.

The Initiatives tab is just a consolidation of all the Resources associated with a given initiative. Currently, the PLN is consolidating information and submissions regarding three major initiatives: Common Assessment (CAI), Education Planning (EPI), and Online Education (OEI).

Last but not least, the Share page is where you can go to upload material to the PLN. If you have any material you would like to share, just enter the title and a brief description. The PLN support team will review submissions and upload the material as long as it is appropriate.

As always, please feel free to provide any questions and comments about the material, or additional suggestions for the type of content you’d like to see on these blog posts. The next Brown Bag is scheduled for Tuesday, November 8th, and we welcome any suggestions you have for (educational) topics you’d like to see us cover.

Research Brown Bag Digest – September 2016

During September’s session, we covered various aspects of the Program Review process, but we also provided brief discussions of IPEDS data and qualitative research methods.

Generally speaking, the IPEDS reports are results from a nationwide survey of college institutions. Data for ECC or Compton Center is aggregated to the institutional level, and then this data is compared with other institutions that are determined to be similar based on characteristics like size, geography, and community demographics. The IPEDS feedback report isn’t currently available online, but please feel free to contact us if you would like to see a copy of the report or presentation. More intrepid users or those already familiar with IPEDS may consider going directly to the IPEDS Data Center, but please be advised that this federal database can be very complex to navigate and that we have not provided a tutorial for this website yet.

Regarding qualitative research, this is a broad and encompassing term for data that tends to be open-ended and verbal, as opposed to closed-ended and numerical. Common examples involve using information from focus groups and interviews to answer the “why” of a larger research question. But rather than writing an extensive review of qualitative research on this blog, we recommend looking at the Qualitative Research summary document provided to attendees of the last session. (Feel free to contact us if you’d like a copy of this document even if you weren’t present at the last session.)

A majority of the September session was spent discussing the Program Review process. The program review process is detailed extensively in the guidelines provided for Instructional Programs as well as Student Services.  The document for instructional programs also contains a detailed explanation and visualization of how the process works and why your program review matters to institutional planning, located in Appendix E.  This document also contains: a 2016 timeline of the review process; a sample of the standard student survey questions; a rubric for how the program review will be examined by the committee; and detailed instructions for addressing each aspect of the program review document that needs to be written.

Lastly, we went over the MyECC portal and the different program review data files available there. Interactive data files are available containing: program review information for instructional programs, program review information for student service programs, and detailed success and retention rates for courses, departments, and divisions. Success and retention rates are also available on the IRP website, but you can access an interactive version of this data through MyECC.

To access the Instructional Program Review data file:
1) Log in to MyECC.
2) Move your pointer over “Areas” in the top-left to make a drop-down menu appear.
3) From the drop-down menu, move your pointer over “Institutional Effectiveness” and then click “Program Review,” which will open a new page.
4) Under documents, click “Academic Affairs,” which will open a new page.
5) From here, select “Program Review Datafile-Compton 2015” for the most recent data.

To access the Student Service Metrics file and the interactive Success and Retention file, just click on “Institutional Research and Planning” instead of “Program Review” in Step 3 listed above. Student service data is located in the “Metrics Tool” folder, and the success and retention data is located in the “Success and Retention Reports” folder.

As always, please feel free to provide any questions and comments about the material, or additional suggestions for the type of content you’d like to see on these blog posts. The next Brown Bag is scheduled for Tuesday, October 11th, and we welcome any suggestions you have for topics you’d like to see us cover.

Research Brown Bag Recap – August 2016

In case you didn’t know, the Office of Institutional Research has begun hosting “Research Brown Bag” sessions on the 2nd Tuesday of each month. Generally, these are informal Q&A sessions to help understand institutional research and answer any questions about how the research process can contribute to your work.  We’ll be posting a summary of each session to this blog, recapping the topics we covered and websites we shared.

The last session covered an in-depth tour of the Institutional Research & Planning (IRP) webpage, where most of our reports and data are published. We strongly encourage you to visit the IRP website because it includes a lot of publicly available information.

The other agenda item involved using DataMart, a software service provided by the Chancellor’s Office that lets you query institutional data much like we do in the research offices.  DataMart contains the same Management Information System (MIS) data that we use on campus, so you can guarantee it is reasonably accurate. After learning the basics of DataMart queries, you should be able to find information related to a number of things, including student outcomes, enrollment, services, instructional programs, and more general institutional data. More advanced techniques allow you to disaggregate the data according to demographic characteristics like age, gender, and ethnicity.  DataMart is great for finding detailed information about a specific type of outcome, but any requests to examine data across multiple categories will still likely need to go through Institutional Research or IRP.

We also provided a brief tutorial for using Doodle, a free online scheduling tool.  There’s no sign-up required. Basically, you can enter any number of proposed meeting times, and Doodle will generate a link you can give to the meeting attendees so they can vote on or list their availability.

During the last session, someone asked about a map that displays all of the potential “feeder” schools in our area. Although we weren’t able to find the original website mentioned during the brown bag, there are some alternatives that still provide this information.  One suggestion was to use Zillow, which does provide an option for searching for schools in the surrounding area, and GreatSchools also provides a useful map that can be organized according to the unified school districts.  If you have any additional suggestions for websites that let you search for schools, feel free to comment on this post.

There was also a question about finding success and retention data in case faculty would like to see this information for the specific courses they have taught.  This information is available in a few places, but the most immediate source is the Success and Retention page of the IRP website, where you can open disaggregated reports to see the rates for a given course during a given term. If you want to disaggregate these results further than what’s shown on the webpage, you can use our customizable data tool available through the MyECC portal (go to “Areas” then “Institutional Effectiveness” then “Institutional Research and Planning”).  If you would like comparative or trend analyses that are beyond the scope of these online tools, feel free to complete a Research Request.

There were also various suggestions for what kinds of content people would like to see us post on the blog in the future.  Some suggestions were:

  • brief professional development opportunities (e.g., YouTube clips or web guides)
  • current issues in institutional research (local, regional, statewide, and national)
  • in-depth Q&A for specific topics that came up during the Brown Bag (feel free to use this blog post to ask questions as well!)
  • brief summaries of committee meetings attended by IR or IRP

We can’t make any promises just yet, but please feel free to provide any additional suggestions for the type of content you’d like to see on these blog posts.  Our next Brown Bag is scheduled for Tuesday, September 13th, and we welcome any suggestions you have for topics that you’d like to see us cover.

Stay tuned for future Brown Bag Recaps and other research-related blog posts!

Distance Education Report and Survey Results

by Jessica Sanchez

The Institutional Research office has been working on a project throughout the 2014-2015 academic year to assess Distance Education (DE) at El Camino College (ECC) and the Compton Center. These reports chronicle the recent growth of online course offerings and enrollments at ECC and the Compton Center and compare academic performance in these courses with their traditional classroom counterparts. These reports include a plethora of information on success, retention, course offering, student demographics, and performance.

One interesting find is the growth of online courses, particularly hybrid courses. Hybrid courses are those where students have weekly meetings on campus with online content included in the course. Figure 1 below shows hybrid section offerings at ECC tripled from Fall 2014 to Fall 2015. Sections (and consequently seats), have also increased considerably. The full report includes figures for trends spanning from Fall 2011 to Fall 2015 as well as Spring 2011 to Spring 2015.


Traditional and DE course success and retention was compared across all disciplines. Findings show that there is plenty of variation among courses. Further analyses, as well as expert input, can help pinpoint courses that need revision. These data can help steer the conversation of DE towards interventions and professional development that will increase course success rates.

Figure 2 shows that over half of students that took DE courses at the Compton Center over the 2014-2015 academic year were not first timers. Similar enrollment patterns were found for ECC (not shown here). These students are continuing to take advantage of the DE offerings at ECC and The Compton Center. The figure also shows that half the students that were enrolled in DE courses were also enrolled in on campus courses. This is interesting because it shows that students are supplementing their course load with DE courses.


In addition to the update of the DE performance reports, distance education students at both campuses were surveyed about their experiences at ECC and the Compton Center. Students seem to be content with the DE courses they have taken at ECC and the Compton Center. When students were asked what reasons would keep them from taking DE courses in subsequent semesters, 61% of respondents said there was no reason for them not to take a DE course in the future. When asked if they would be interested in completing a degree or certificate completely online, 76% of students said they would be interested in doing so. This is promising since the campuses are looking into expanding the online services and number of sections offered.

When asked for further comment, students were forthcoming with their experiences. One student stated, “I think online courses act as great refresher courses for older adults who want to return to school. Also, online courses are beneficial to adults who work full-time.” This is not surprising and various respondents had similar thoughts. However, it was also notable to have a student write, “My online experience so far has been amazing. I took another course before this one and I thought it was really cool how I was able to finish a class online at my own pace. Since I am a full time student at ECC it gave me a chance to do good in my face to face classes as well as my online class. I would definitely recommend it to students who have a tight schedule.”

This is just a small sample of the information that is available in these reports. Be sure to follow these links to the El Camino College Distance Education Report, as well as the Compton Center Distance Education Report. Results for the El Camino College Distance Education Student Survey Results and the Compton Center Distance Education Student Survey Results are also available on the Institutional Research Website.



Time to Completion Report 2013-2014

by Joshua Meadors

The 2013-2014 “Time to Completion” report for El Camino College and Compton Center is now available. You can access it here. This report looks at the amount of time students require between first enrolling and finally completing their educational goals at El Camino College (ECC) and ECC Compton Center.

Students at both locations tend to require more than the two years that are expected to be necessary to complete their degree and certificate programs. In fact, a majority of the students (53%) require at least twice the “normal time” to complete a given program. (“Normal time” just refers to the calculated amount of time necessary to complete a program, based on the program’s required coursework and the assumption the student maintains full-time enrollment.)

Frequency of Units ECC

To earn an Associate degree at ECC or Compton Center, students must complete at least 60 degree-applicable units. According to the chart above, the majority of students at ECC earn somewhere between the 60 units required for a degree and the 90 units that put them at risk of losing financial aid. However, most students (85%) are earning more units than necessary for the given degree. Students at ECC typically earn 81 units before receiving their degree, implying they are taking at least two semesters’ worth of additional coursework for that degree.

Frequency of Units Compton

According to the chart above, the majority of students at Compton Center are also earning between 60 and 90 units prior to receiving their degrees. Many students (78%) are also earning more units than necessary for the given degree. On average, Compton Center students earn 75 units by the time they complete their program, implying they are taking at least one semester of additional coursework.

For both locations, the closer students were to having 60 units at the time of completion, the more likely they were to have completed their programs within shorter amounts of time. In general, younger students and students who did not take excessively more than the required 60 units tended to complete more quickly than other students. Younger age groups (i.e., below 24 years) tended to earn program awards at quicker rates, and the vast majority of students earning between 60 and 90 units were also students who were between 20 and 24 years of age.

The data revealed a few possible explanations of student characteristics that may be related to completion time. For example: further analyses indicated that, compared to students who were tracked into “Basic Skills” courses, students who were not tracked into “Basic Skills” courses completed in significantly shorter amounts of time (both in general and in terms of what percentage of “normal time” was required), although there were no significant differences in these students’ GPA or units earned.

To read the full report, just click the following link:

[Time to Completion 2013-2014: El Camino College and Compton Center]

El Camino College Assessment Test Results (Fall 2013 and Fall 2014)

by Eboni Martin

It’s the beginning of a new school year and the second week of classes! This means that prior to the start of the new school year, lots of incoming students trickled through the Assessment and Testing Center to take an assessment test. Before starting classes, students are encouraged to take an assessment test in reading, writing, math, English as a Second Language (ESL), or chemistry. Assessment tests are important for placing students into classes at the right level. We recently released reports examining 2-year placement trends for incoming first-time/full-time students at both El Camino College (ECC) and El Camino College Compton Center (Compton Center).

The reading, writing, and math tests place students in a variety of levels depending on test performance. For this report, placements are grouped into categories of similarly-leveled courses. These groups are 1) transferlevel—courses that are equivalent to courses at a 4-year institution, 2) collegepreparatory—courses that immediately precede transfer-level courses, and 3) basic skills—courses defined by ECC as basic skills courses (in most cases, more than one level below transfer).

The course in which a student is placed can be very important. A student placed into a transfer-level course begins several semesters closer to a degree or transfer than a student placed into a basic skills course. For example, a student who places into the most remedial math class offered at ECC (basic arithmetic) is three levels below degree credit and four levels before transfer credit courses. This translates to at least three terms of math before a student can take a course to satisfy the math requirement for a degree and four terms of math before the student can take transfer-level math.

At ECC, there are several interesting findings. First, there was a decrease in the number of students who took a placement test on-campus and subsequently enrolled at ECC in 2014. In comparison, there was an increase in the number of students who took an assessment test off-campus and subsequently enrolled at ECC in 2014. This may be due to the ongoing efforts of the college towards strengthening its relationship with feeder high schools and the community. Similar to the ECC main campus, there was also a decrease in the number of students who took a placement test on-campus and subsequently enrolled at Compton Center in 2014. This decrease may be due to students now having the option to assess off-campus.

Second, this report illustrates the disparate levels of college preparation that incoming students possess. As shown below, over the past two years at ECC, transfer-level placement rates varied widely between Reading (49%), Writing (41%), and Math (13%). At Compton, transfer-level placements rates also varied widely between Reading (31%), Writing (23%), and Math (2%).

ECC Reading Test writing testmath test

Furthermore, the analysis by subgroup (ethnicity and gender) illustrated several examples of possible disproportionate impact. At El Camino College, women were less likely than men to be placed into transfer-level reading and math. As the following charts display, both African-American and Latino students at ECC were less likely than White students to be placed into transfer-level and more likely to be placed into basic skills reading, writing, and math. African-American and Latino students were also less likely than White students to be placed into English 1A.

reading ethnicity writing ethnicitymath ethnicity

At Compton Center, there was no evidence of disproportionate impact for African-American and Latino students on the reading or writing placement test. Additionally, disproportionate impact for African-American and Latino students could not be tested for on the math placement test because the reference group (White students) at Compton Center was too small. Although disproportionate impact was not found based on ethnicity, a large percentage of African-American and Latino students did place into basic skills reading and basic skills math.

To minimize disproportionate impact, ECC and Compton Center will continue to support programs aimed at increasing English and math achievement. For example, the Summer Math Academy (SMA) equips students who place into basic skills and college preparatory math with tools to help them succeed in their math courses. After completing the SMA, students are given the option to re-take the math placement test. More information can be found here: El Camino College SMA and Compton Center SMA.

These findings underscore the fact that ECC and Compton Center serve a student body with varied levels of college preparation. To read the full reports, as well as many other student outcomes reports, click here.

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