Collaboration in Student Assessment Research: Beyond Data Collection and Reporting

Robin Capt (West Texas A&M, USA), Heidi Taylor (West Texas A&M, USA), Gary Kelley (West Texas A&M, USA) and Mo Cuevas (West Texas A&M, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 259
EISBN13: 9781466609990|DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-857-6.ch016
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Institutional Research (IR) professionals have diverse roles and responsibilities in universities across the country. The Office of Institutional Research (OIR) at Small State University has evolved from an Office of Planning and Analysis whose primary responsibility was for collecting and reporting descriptive statistics to an OIR with growing responsibilities for outcomes research. In this chapter, the authors describe the transition of the OIR to provide more support to outcomes research and program/project evaluation. A particular case related to the university’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) and First Year Experience (FYE) efforts is described. For many universities, the primary and sometimes only outcome measure being assessed related to the First Year Experience is the Fall to Fall retention rate of students. At Small State University, faculty were interested in understanding more about how a particular FYE course and its learning community contributed to student success indicators beyond retention rates. Through collaboration between the OIR, the Associate Provost (AP), and the Associate Vice President for Learning Assessment (AVPLA), data regarding FYE courses and learning communities was assessed. The findings supported the skills learned through the FYE course and learning communities are mechanisms through which at-risk students can improve overall GPA and retention. This collaboration between the OIR, the AP, and the AVPLA provided a foundation upon which focused studies of student characteristics and outcomes assessment can proceed in the future. A framework for organizing the work of institutional research and learning assessment is proposed.
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