• Confessions of a Community College Dean

    In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.

Title

'Useful'

Sharing the data.

January 14, 2015
 

Next week a colleague and I are hosting a presentation for faculty and staff in which we’ll share the institutional data used for decision-making. It’s not the first time we’ve done it; we had a similar “data day’ last year. The idea was to honor the goals of transparency and shared governance by making sure that everybody had access to the same facts. An informed campus, I assumed, would have a better shot at making good decisions.

This year brings updates to the data, including -- spoiler alert -- a pretty dramatic jump in the graduation rate. That’s great, as far as it goes. I’m always happy to share good news. But I’m wondering now about a different way to select the data.

Information like course completion rates and graduation rates can help set a context for institution-level decisions, which can be useful in making the discussions in governance more grounded. But I’m not sure that it’s terribly useful in the classroom, or when trying to help an individual student. In other words, a professor on the college Senate may find this stuff helpful, but someone who’s mostly focused on preparing and improving her own classes might not.

This is where I’m hoping my wise and worldly readers can help.

For readers who work in faculty or staff roles: what kind of data would you find useful in the context of your day-to-day work? Would it be something like the difference in pass rates between students who use the tutoring center and students who don’t?  Differences in gen ed outcomes assessment scores by major? Percentage of students with reliable internet access at home? Percentage of students who report not buying textbooks?  Percentage of students who work more than twenty hours a week for pay?

I’m trying to move from data that only useful at the institutional level to stuff that faculty and staff could use for making their own decisions.

Wise and worldly readers, what say you?  What data would you actually find useful?

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