ERIC Number: ED360024
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1993-May
Reference Count: N/A
The Institutional Researcher as Interpreter and Critic.
Matsen, Marie E.
This study builds on an earlier one in which the role of institutional researchers in providing computer information systems (CIS) data to administrators was investigated. To examine the relationship between college culture and the role of institutional researchers as either providers of information or interpreters of data, a study was conducted at three community colleges in the Pacific Northwest. The president, top level administrators, and the institutional researcher were sent audio tape questionnaires and were interviewed about college culture, decision making processes, and the roles of the institutional researcher. The study found that the three colleges differed in organizational climate: one was described as working as a team, another as essentially political in its decision-making process, and the third as chaotic and inconsistent. These climates affected the researchers' view of data as capable of capturing a knowable "reality," with data representing an incomplete reality at the first institution, a negotiated reality at the second, and a construct that could be interpreted from many different perspectives at the third. However, administrators at all sites relied primarily on institutional researchers for data, and therefore recognized the role of researchers as providers of data. The administrators also indicated that the major role of researchers should be to interpret the data, stating that they themselves did not have the skills or time to perform analyses and that researchers had objective methodologies and training in statistical analysis. Finally, at the college described as chaotic the researcher functioned as institutional critic, a role stemming from the cultural climate, the view of data as an interpretable reality, and administrative support. (MAB)
Descriptors: Adoption (Ideas), College Planning, Community Colleges, Decision Making, Educational Research, Educational Researchers, Institutional Research, Organizational Climate, Research Administration, Research Directors, Research Utilization, Self Evaluation (Groups), Theory Practice Relationship, Two Year Colleges
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Lane Community Coll., Eugene, OR.