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ERIC Number: EJ789528
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 12
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0271-0579
From Complex Data to Actionable Information: Institutional Research Supporting Enrollment Management
Anderson, Douglas K.; Milner, Bridgett J.; Foley, Chris J.
New Directions for Institutional Research, n137 p71-82 Spr 2008
Producing analyses that are accurate, timely, and simple is a constant challenge for institutional researchers. The stakes are high: when the analysis is incomplete, arrives too late, does not adequately address the question, or is simply too much to comprehend, decision makers fall back on anecdotal thinking or gut-level reactions that can lead them astray. In practice, they too often fall prey to two types of errors. First, they oversimplify the actual relationships and trends within data by either creating static snapshots that obscure the dynamics or showing only a small piece of the whole picture. At the other extreme, they create output that is so complex as to render it unusable by the individuals who rely on it as an aid in policymaking. Both situations can lead to significant errors in judgment and decision making and lead to the implementation of less-than-optimal policy. To overcome these threats and keep their research and recommendations understandable while respecting the real complexity of the institution, they must become more creative in their thinking, analysis, and presentation. The authors illustrate their approach by addressing three sets of challenges, using enrollment management questions as examples. The authors stress that analyses and output generated should match the question posed, graphics should be used when possible to display complex information in simple and easily understood formats, and even sophisticated analyses should yield simple and easily used results. Techniques range from simple layout or presentation formats in which the data provided more clearly address the question posed, to the design of easily used tools that present large volumes of data in simple and accessible formats, allowing even novice users to conduct statistical manipulations with the click of a button. (Contains 6 tables and 5 figures.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: Policymakers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A