Principles for the Analysis of Large Complex Secondary Databases in Educational Settings

Principles for the Analysis of Large Complex Secondary Databases in Educational Settings

Yen To (The University of Southern Mississippi, USA) and Hansel Burley (Texas Tech University, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-857-6.ch008
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A primary feature of institutional research work is prediction. When statistics are used as the primary analysis tool, much of this work depends upon ordinary least squares regression, which assumes that data have one level. However, much of the data in educational research, in general, and in higher education research, in particular, is multilevel or nested. This chapter explores multilevel data analysis, with a focus on exploring issues associated with sampling, weighting, design effects, and analysis of data. Additionally, it emphasizes the importance of considering contextual effects using as a reference large secondary datasets. The chapter will also explore opportunities and challenges presented by these types of data.
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Like never before, Big State University has towering expectations. Two decades ago, Big State was a large, but sleepy regional university with expectations for its future indistinguishable from the accomplishments of its past. These expectations focused around agriculture, the health sciences, football, and girls basketball. Its cultural outlook was simultaneously Western, Midwestern, and Southern, a mix that distinguished it from other universities. The university community reveled in this unique identity. Further, the uniqueness of the university was solidified by its possession of some unusual characteristics for a regional university: it possessed a comprehensive undergraduate outlook that included 11 colleges, a law school, and an all-inclusive health sciences center. Many programs, particularly those in the health sciences center served parts of 4 states, in addition to the university’s home state. Still, the areas served are rural and are experiencing shrinking populations. Additionally, the region is plagued by water concerns, so many new industries are dissuaded from moving to the area. Finally, the university is 300 miles from some of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the nation, so it has had to work hard to get the attention of those who live in these areas.

In the last decade, new leadership desired first a higher profile for the university, then a national research university, or Tier I status. Wisely, this leadership understood the university’s potential for good, but also realized that if the university were to survive the problems of the region, it needed to evolve from a quaint regional university to a university known for its discoveries. They wove these desires into the university strategic plan, and this strategic plan was one that did not sit on a shelf and collect dust. The university community actively set the plan in motion. The results of putting the plan in motion have produced some extraordinary results. The university has seen its fall enrollment grow from 25,000 to 33,000, with most new students coming from metropolitan areas outside the region. In addition, the university is moving faster than expected to its announced goal of 40,000 students by the year 2020 . The highest growth has been in the graduate programs, with strong researchers attracting stronger students. It has greatly expanded its production of Ph.D.s, and it has made a concerted effort to hire top researchers. It now has campuses at sites that are 100, 200, and 300 miles away, respectively, and it is a leader in distance education. The university is close to Tier I status, which will mean at least $40 million in additional state dollars, per biennium, should it be so classified. Still, this growth means more scrutiny and accountability from layers of accrediting bodies and state and federal agencies. It means unending reports and self-studies. From faculty and mid-level administrator, these changes have invoked an insatiable desire for data— simple, complex, cross sectional, and longitudinal.

How can this university assure quality programs and services that keep pace with its growth? Will student learning be sacrificed? Who will assess university outcomes? Can the university support a centralized institutional research system? As technology advances, how can the university make sure that its institutional research efforts keep pace?

Like never before, this university needs an agile institutional research office, one with the capacity to use multiple methods in order to examine the complex problems from multiple perspectives. As perspectives get more complex, analyses need to become more sophisticated. One such recognition is that in such a far-flung university, the data are naturally complex—that is, the unit of analysis (i.e., a student or department) is nested within some larger grouping of the data. For example, students are nested within schools and colleges. When the institutional researcher conducts longitudinal studies, time is an additional nesting variable.

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
John A. Williams
Hansel Burley
Chapter 1
Hansel Burley
The author focuses on the institutional researcher as an institutional leader, over and above providing traditional reporting and support. IR... Sample PDF
The Dean of Information: A Theoretical Framework for Institutional Research Leadership in Higher Education
Chapter 2
James E. McLean, Alanna Rochelle King Dail
In today’s environment, external support for college activities has become much more than a luxury. While the basic teaching functions are funded... Sample PDF
Changing the Grant Culture of a College
Chapter 3
Dana L. Dalton
This case study describes the events from 2003 to the present surrounding the implementation of a relational student information Enterprise Resource... Sample PDF
From Silos to Sharing: An Institutional Research View of the Conversion to an ERP
Chapter 4
Garnett Lee Henley, Gerunda B. Hughes, Tawanda Feimster, Leo E. Rouse
Many institutions do not perform statistical modeling of student academic outcomes because they lack the ability to translate Banner® relational... Sample PDF
Parsing Banner Downloaded Data into a Flat-File Format for Analysis
Chapter 5
Constanta-Nicoleta Bodea, Vasile Bodea, Radu Mogos
The aim of this chapter is to explore the application of data mining for analyzing academic performance in connection with the participatory... Sample PDF
Institutional Research Using Data Mining: A Case Study in Online Programs
Chapter 6
Nicolas A. Valcik
This chapter will address the use of Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) for institutional research and strategic planning departments. Throughout... Sample PDF
Using Geospatial Information Systems for Strategic Planning and Institutional Research
Chapter 7
Rajeev Bukralia, Amit V. Deokar, Surendra Sarnikar, Mark Hawkes
This chapter outlines a case of identifying students at-risk of dropping out of online courses by using institutional research data. The case... Sample PDF
Using Machine Learning Techniques in Student Dropout Prediction
Chapter 8
Yen To, Hansel Burley
A primary feature of institutional research work is prediction. When statistics are used as the primary analysis tool, much of this work depends... Sample PDF
Principles for the Analysis of Large Complex Secondary Databases in Educational Settings
Chapter 9
Lucy Barnard-Brak, Valerie Osland Paton
Violations of academic integrity (e.g., cheating and other acts of academic dishonesty) are issues on every college campus (e.g., Turner &... Sample PDF
Experimental Design to Examine the Effectiveness of Honor Codes
Chapter 10
Stephanie J. Jones
Community colleges offer a variety of distance learning opportunities and continue to invest in technologies that better serve their students. This... Sample PDF
Developing a Quality Distance Learning Program in a Comprehensive Community College
Chapter 11
Kevin Gosselin, Hansel Burley
Today’s higher education professional is beginning to feel the squeeze of higher expectations and the need to deliver instruction in a variety of... Sample PDF
Developing an Online Course On-the-Fly with an IR State of Mind
Chapter 12
Aaron R. Baggett
On the surface, West Point’s long line of cadet moral development may not seem obvious. Perhaps notable alumni, its history in educating engineers... Sample PDF
A Million Ghosts: West Point’s Long Line of Moral Development and Character Education
Chapter 13
Garnett Lee Henley, Wanda Lawrence, Candace Mitchell, Donna Henley-Jackson, Tawana Feimster
There are several excellent indices available to quantify diversity within a student body. Richness and evenness can be studied using Simpson’s... Sample PDF
Measuring Diversity at a Historically Black College of Dentistry
Chapter 14
Valerie McGaha-Garnett
Many non-traditional and first-generation students face multiple limitations to successful academic achievement, like the case of the student... Sample PDF
Examining University Retention Efforts of Non-Traditional Students
Chapter 15
Fernando Valle, Stacy A. Jacob, Zhaomin He
Higher education administrators constantly face tough decisions when assessing the feasibility of university programs. In fiscally responsive... Sample PDF
The National Research University: Toward Becoming a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) at a Responsibility Centered Management University
Chapter 16
Robin Capt, Heidi Taylor, Gary Kelley, Mo Cuevas
Institutional Research (IR) professionals have diverse roles and responsibilities in universities across the country. The Office of Institutional... Sample PDF
Collaboration in Student Assessment Research: Beyond Data Collection and Reporting
Chapter 17
Annette E. Smith, Stephanie J. Jones
Assessment of student learning outcomes at institutions of higher learning has become a strategic initiative as accountability discussions continue... Sample PDF
Developing an Assessment Plan for the Arts and Sciences Division of a Comprehensive Community College
Chapter 18
Gita Wijesinghe Pitter, William Hudson
Increasing student retention and graduation is one of the most difficult challenges facing Traditionally Black College and University (TBCUs). This... Sample PDF
A Framework for Examining Data and Taking Action to Increase Student Retention and Graduation
Chapter 19
Mary Cain Fehr, Mary Frances Agnello, Steven M. Crooks, Fethi Inan, Raymond Flores
Assessing the effectiveness of academic programs is a critical element of institutional research. Changing demographics in the United States compel... Sample PDF
The Birth of a Survey: Developing an Assessment of Preservice Teachers’ Diversity Awareness
Chapter 20
Hansel Burley, Lucy Barnard-Brak, Valerie McGaha-Garnett, Bolanle A. Olaniran, Aretha Marbley
The purpose of the current study is to examine secondary school factors that predict the performance and persistence of African American students at... Sample PDF
African Americans and Planned Resilience: In Search of Ordinary Magic
Chapter 21
Gita Wijesinghe Pitter
Accreditation, whether it be institutional or specialized, is an essential and powerful part of life at academic institutions. This case study... Sample PDF
Establishing Continuous Readiness for Specialized Accreditation
Chapter 22
Robert Elliott
We know that a nationwide shortage of highly qualified teachers exists, and not enough people are becoming teachers. We also know there are... Sample PDF
A Case Study: Closing the Assessment Loop with Program and Institutional Data
Chapter 23
Valerie Osland Paton, Gerry Dizinno, Roy Mathew
During the period of 1970-2010 in American higher education, the burden of funding has shifted in proportion from the federal government, to the... Sample PDF
Developing Best Practices for Value Added Research in a Political Context
Chapter 24
Hansel Burley, Bolanle A. Olaniran
The researchers included 10 embedded assessments in the study for a mean gain effect size of .35. From the results of a pilot study, the authors... Sample PDF
Meta-Analysis as a Tool for Assessing University-Wide Student Learning Outcomes
Chapter 25
Margaret Johnson, Larry Hovey, Pam Tipton
Along the way, a number of personnel, organizational, and technical problems were encountered, and many were resolved. What did became clear is that... Sample PDF
Using Bad News to Make Good Decisions
Chapter 26
Thomas K. Martin
The latter finding, while complicating the interpretation of the analysis, contributed most significantly to answering the question of whether or... Sample PDF
A Study of the Relationship between Freshman Composition and Student Performance in Intensive Writing Courses
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