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2015 Pre-Conference Workshop Descriptions
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1/2 Day Workshop Session Fee - $90; Full Day - $180; Newcomers - $120

Saturday Morning and Afternoon- 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM IPEDS Training

Best Practices for Reporting and Using IPEDS Data to Improve Office Efficiencies            

For more information about the AIR/NCES IPEDS workshop and registration information, click here.

Saturday Afternoon - 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM; Sunday Morning 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM

Introduction to Statistics using SPSS, Part I (Part II Sunday Morning)                

Jessica Sharkness, Tufts University

This workshop will develop participants’ basic understanding of statistics and of SPSS. Participants will learn the conceptual underpinnings of many common descriptive and multivariate analyses and will also learn to conduct these analyses in SPSS and interpret the results.  Participants will learn how to produce and apply measures of central tendency, variance, and outliers; confidence intervals, frequency distributions; cross tabulations; tests of group differences (i.e., t-tests, ANOVA); correlation; and regression.  Emphasis will be placed on how to interpret output and communicate results, as well as on statistical versus substantive significance. Participants will perform statistical operations with SPSS using student survey data.

The intended audience consists of institutional research professionals who are new to SPSS and/or statistics, as well as those who need a refresher course in either SPSS or basic statistics.  No prior SPSS or statistical knowledge is assumed, although general facility with laptop computers and file management is required.

Attendees must bring laptop, Participants will need to bring laptops to the workshop pre-loaded with SPSS (either their own copy or a trial version downloaded from the SPSS website).


Newcomers to IR, Part I (Part II Sunday morning)              

Annemarie  Bartlett, Ursinus College: Alan Sturtz, Connecticut State University, Emeritus; Alexander Yin, The Pennsylvania State University

This full-day workshop is designed for those of you who are brand-new [less than one year] to the IR function or office…either by choice or happenstance.  Topics will include: What is Institutional Research?  Our place in the Higher Education Landscape.  Knowledge Areas and Skill Sets. Values and Ethics. Resources.  The workshop is user-friendly so bring any questions or concerns you may have.  The workshop leaders have extensive IR experience in the public and private sector, at the two-year and four-year level, and as IR staff and directors of IR.  Presentation materials will be e-mailed to registrants in advance of the workshop.

Newcomers to IR and to survey research. No prerequisite knowledge or skills.


Saturday Afternoon - 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM


Career Management and Leadership in IR               

Mitchell Nesler, Empire State College

Participants will consider a series of issues associated with managing their careers in institutional research including career advancement and the knowledge, skills, abilities, and experiences needed to advance in higher education.  This workshop will be highly interactive and is limited to those with at least 5 years of IR/higher education experience.

5 or more years of IR experience is a prerequisite.


Conducting Peer Analyses and Benchmarking Utilizing Faculty Compensation Data

John Barnshaw, American Association of University Professors

This workshop explores the submission, verification, validation and best practices for sharing results of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) Faculty Compensation Survey.  The AAUP Faculty Compensation Survey is a unique data sharing enterprise covering more than 375,000 full-time faculty and more than 1,100 institutions in higher education, making it the largest independent source of salary and benefits data in higher education.  Upon completion of this session, participants will be able to (1) identify high quality sources of faculty data, including the AAUP Faculty Compensation Survey, (2) understand how to adequately collect, verify and validate data, (3) select peer institutions, (4) understand the assumptions of common statistical benchmarking techniques and (5) utilize best practices for data presentation.  The session concludes with a hands-on exercise designed to introduce participants into conducting their own peer and statistical analyses for benchmarking salary and compensation data.  Beyond understanding salary and compensation survey data, the workshop is also useful for understanding benchmarking statistical techniques which include cluster analysis, linear regression, and simulation.

Engage your Audience with PowerPoints and Visuals                     

Emily Weir Foley, Tom Dobrosielski, University of Maryland, College Park

You’ve collected and analyzed data, now how can you present it in an informative, clear, and interesting way? Expanding on an NEAIR 2014 workshare, this workshop includes tips for creating presentations, tables, graphs, and other visualizations that are both engaging and easy-to-read. This interactive session will include discussion of basic design, tips for using PowerPoint, and application of concepts learned through a hands-on activity. Presenters will not focus on collecting or analyzing data; they will focus on visualizing and presenting them. Examples will include simple frequencies, but the concepts could be applied to more complex statistical methods. All data tell a story; let visualizations help you share it!

This program is for those looking to re-envision PowerPoint presentations and learn more about design elements that make data, tables, and graphs more appealing to an audience. Presenters will not focus on collecting or analyzing data; they will focus on visualizing and presenting them. Examples will include simple frequencies but the concepts could be applied to more complex statistical methods. IR professionals of any level are welcome. A basic knowledge of Microsoft Office recommended, but not required.

Attendees must bring laptop, Presenters will use Microsoft Office Suite 2013. For ease of following along during interactive activities that version is recommended. However, if participants have another version of the software they are welcome to attend but should know that the presenters’ screen and step-by-step processes may not align with the participant’s.

Helping Faculty Design Meaningful Assessment Rubrics

Curt Naser, Fairfield University

This workshop will engage participants in designing a rubric for assessing (and/or grading) student written work.  We will take as an example an ethics paper and participants will help design a rubric for assessing both general education outcomes as well as more specific content outcomes.

Anyone working with faculty on developing rubrics for assessing student work in complex humanistic disciplines.


Using the Force: Tips and Tricks for Becoming an Excel Jedi                     

James Fergerson, Carleton College

The workshop will offer a variety of examples of practical and technical ways that institutional researchers can use to expand Excel skills to improve efficiency and save time.  We will explore topics including advanced functions, pivot table reporting, slicers and spinners, data cleanup, reverse engineering IPEDS data, conditional formatting, and more.  We may touch briefly on some useful add-ins to the base version of Excel  Attendees should bring a laptop and expect to work through a series of exercises.  Examples will be drawn from IPEDS, enrollment management, budgeting, and surveys.  Attendees are invited to share some of their own tips and tricks that they have found useful.

Persons with an sound basic or intermediate understanding of Excel, who are seeking to learn some more advanced techniques to improve efficiency in their offices.  Attendees must bring laptop, Microsoft Excel 2010 or beyond (2013 Windows version preferred).  Optional--install Microsoft business intelligence add-ins such as PowerPivot, PowerQuery, PowerView.


Sunday Morning- 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM; 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM FULL DAY


Introduction to R for IR, Part I (Part II Sunday Afternoon)                 

Jason Bryer, Excelsior College; Kim Speerschneider, Excelsior College

R is an open-source software and statistical computing language particularly well-suited for the functions of an IR office. It can be a valuable tool for promoting transparency and reproducibility, can save considerable analyst time, and has extensive capabilities for data visualization and interactive reporting.  Workshop attendees will learn how to conduct basic analyses, visualize findings, generate and automate reports, and create web-based dashboards. The audience will also be introduced to the potential R holds for advanced analyses, visualizations and reporting techniques. R resources, which would be particularly applicable to IR professionals will also be shared including packages for survey analysis, handling cohort data, etc.

IR staff that regularly generate reports, especially reoccurring reports and anyone interested in learning R would benefit from the session. No previous R experience is required.

Attendees must bring laptop, We will send information to attendees prior to the conference so that they can install R and Rstudio.


Leadership in IR and IE: Enhancing Personal and Professional Effectiveness, Part I

(Part II Sunday afternoon)         

William Knight, Ball State University

The workshop provides real-world IR/IE examples, case studies, and other hands-on learning strategies to help participants enhance their skill sets in the areas of personal and social competency, successfully navigating campus politics and cultures, ensuring effective use of information, and career management, based upon the presenter’s new book and his leadership within the Association for Institutional Research and the Association for Higher Education Effectiveness. 

The intended audience is institutional research and institutional effectiveness professionals at any stage of their careers.


Data Blending and Predictive Analytics with KNIME: Building Workflows for IR  (Part II Sunday afternoon)                     

Paul Prewitt-Freilino, Wheaton College; Nathan Rush, Wheaton College

This workshop provides a general framework for conceptualizing a predictive analytics project that participants can apply to their own institutional environments. Utilizing the Konstanz Information Miner (KNIME), a free open source data mining platform, participants construct their own predictive model from scratch. Through a collection of hands-on exercises using mock datasets, participants create their own workflows to extract data, prepare data, and build predictive models within a graphical interface (no code is required). The workshop will culminate with a discussion of how to incorporate predictive analytics into retention and advising efforts.

Prerequisite: Experience working with large data sets

Laptop Required.  Software download of KNIME Analytics Platform with all extensions (free download)


Sunday Morning - 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM


Developing IR as a Resource for Student Affairs                

Joseph (J.R.) Bjerklie, University of Maine at Fort Kent; Ray Phinney, University of Maine at Fort Kent

We will discuss how Student Affairs and Institutional Research collaborate to provide better evidence to decision makers and better questions for researchers.  We will explore two collaboration examples, and guide participants to discuss and weigh potential projects. Participants will gain a basic model for collaboration between researchers and decision makers, consider ways to use existing data to shape new research, and explore how administrators can sharpen IR value.

IR offices who want to develop or strengthen  campus relationships; student affairs and other campus administrators who want to make greater use of IR skills and techniques


GIS in IR: Using Open-Source Apps to Map Student Locations                    

Sade Walker, Prince George's Community College

The purpose of this workshop is to provide hands-on training on how to use Geographical Information Systems (GIS) software in institutional research analysis and reporting. Using GIS Visualizer and student data, participants will learn how to obtain longitudes and latitudes from addresses (geocoding). Then using a map from the US Census Bureau and GIS software, participants will spatially display the coordinates and visually observe trends or patterns in the data.  In addition, participants will learn how to use the coordinates from geocoding to calculate students’ distance from specific campus locations. Workshop participants will be able to use GIS to track students’ proximity to campus for recruitment and institutional advancement.

This workshop is intended for IR and assessment professionals who want o learn how to apply GIS to institutional research at a beginner or intermediate level. No prior knowledge in the area is necessary.

Attendees must bring laptop, Free Open-Source GIS software: Quantum GIS  It is recommended that participants download the software prior to the start of the session.

How Institutional Research Can Improve Student Success               

David Hemenway, Mitchell College

This workshop will focus on ways to maximize institutional research data/information and studies to improve student success. Examples of numerous studies that have been used to improve student success will be presented and discussed. Attendees will receive examples of this work and receive reporting templates that will be useful at their institutions. This workshop will offer simple, practical approaches to improving student success using assessment and institutional research strategies.

This workshop is useful for newcomers and experienced IR professionals.  Attendees must bring laptop, Basic Microsoft Office applications installed.


Sunday Afternoon Only - 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM

Advanced Statistics for IR:  Exploratory Factor Analysis                    

Mary Ann Coughlin, Springfield College

This workshop focuses on factor analysis and its application within the field of institutional research. Factor analysis is used to establish evidence of the validity of many common assessments (e.g., NSSE, CIRP). Exploratory factor analysis studies the relationships among variables to discover if those variables can be grouped into smaller sets of underlying factors. Often IR professionals are faced with the difficult task of summarizing numerous variables from a survey and seek to reduce the data into smaller sets of factors. The workshop reviews the basic statistical principles of factor analysis and uses a case study example from a senior survey to analyze and interpret exploratory factor analysis with SPSS.

Participants should have a basic understanding of statistics and be interesting in applying factor analysis to their work. Attendees must bring laptop with SPSS installed.


Preparing for Accreditation: IR Roles and Responsibilities

Becky Brodigan, Coby College; Karen Jones, American University 

The presenters, an evaluator from Middle States and an evaluator from NEASC, will conduct a workshop on preparing for accreditation. This session will provide an overview of the accreditation process and will focus on the 5th year report and the self-study with a special emphasis on expectations around assessment issues. This workshop will not cover standards for technical or career colleges. Appropriate for Newcomers.

Anyone is encouraged to attend this workshop.


Survey Research: Best Practices for Institutional Research           

Lauren Conoscenti, Tufts University

This workshop is designed to help newcomers to IR or those who have only had minimal exposure to survey research get acquainted with the best practices in survey research methods. Participants will learn how to plan, design, launch, and manage effective print and electronic surveys in a college or university environment. Critical decision points along the lifespan of the survey will be discussed, including how to choose a sample, how to maximize response rates, and what to do with incomplete surveys. The workshop will also demonstrate how to implement various techniques using a common online survey platform. Upon completion, participants will be able to approach survey projects equipped with strategies to gather appropriate, meaningful data for their institution using surveys.

Newcomers to IR and to survey research. No prerequisite knowledge or skills.  Attendees must bring laptop, Qualtrics Recommended but not required


Qualitative Analysis: What To Do With Comments             

Carol Trosset, Carleton College

This workshop is intended for IR practitioners who want to improve their skills in collecting, analyzing, and reporting on qualitative data from surveys, interviews, and focus groups. Participants will learn about issues involved in qualitative analysis and will observe and practice some basic techniques. The instructor will lecture on the nature of qualitative data and the goals and challenges of qualitative analysis, will demonstrate basic methods and the resulting analyses and reports, and will direct participants in analytical exercises to practice the techniques and discuss related issues. No special prior skills are needed. Handouts will include the data to be used in the exercises.

Anyone who works with qualitative data and would like to explore systematic methods of analysis.

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