New data framework for higher ed has massive implications

It’s All About the Presentation

Emphasized heavily in the Foundation’s report, some “vanguard” institutions have already begun collecting data on these “post-traditional” metrics, and these practices are helping to inform and shape the Foundation and IHEP’s framework.

And according to the Campus Computing Project’s own data, Presidents, Provosts and CFOs also willingly admit that they’d like to do a better job of using data to aid and inform campus-decision making:

Click for a larger image.
Click for a larger image.

The issue, however, is that though innovative universities are beginning to use data and analytics to inform on-campus decision making, collecting and moving that data onto a national platform is intimidating…and often invokes a sense of foreboding thanks to K-12’s experience with outcomes standardization.

“It becomes an issue of taking it beyond the walled city, as it were,” explained Green. “Higher education is increasingly moving toward a culture of evidence at its foundation, but we don’t have a foundation that is widespread.”

And that’s in large part due to what Green described (and most in education know to be true) as a culture of blame.

“There’s a long history of using data as a weapon and not as a resource, especially against HBCUs,” he explained. “But if analytics are ever going to reach their potential to better student outcomes and make institutions more efficient, data has to move from cup to lip. It has to become a cup-to-lip movement.”

Green noted that in order to change the culture from “what you did wrong” to “how we do better,” the four T’s should be taken into consideration: Transparency (in the data collected and why), Training (in how to use the metrics and its tools), Trust (support and a positive outlook), and Tools (software and skills).

“Right now, the four T’s of analytics can be used in the micro sense for on-campus operational implementation success. But they should also be used on the macro level for the framework discussed by the Foundation and IHEP to make that a national success,” concluded Green.

IHEP will release a paper in the coming months with detailed recommendations for definitions of the metrics in the framework, adopting shared definitions from the field where there is consensus, while identifying where and why there are still divergent viewpoints. IHEP will also continue the conversation about postsecondary data and systems through the Postsecondary Data Collaborative—a coalition of nearly three dozen organizations seeking to improve data quality, transparency and use.

For much more detailed information on the framework, its core design principles, and best practices from institutions who lent their expertise to the Foundation for their development of the framework, read the full report “Answering the Call: Institutions and States Lead the Way Toward Better Measures of Postsecondary Performance.”