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.