4. What do you believe will be the future priorities or emerging areas of interest for institutional research, in particular, since COVID-19?
COVID-19 accelerates the pivot to online education. Universities large and small were forced to take part in a mass experiment of online learning when the pandemic ravaged the world. With this massive exposure, it is expected that online learning models (fully online, blended, hybrid, and hyflex (hybrid-flexible)) will continue to grow. For institutional researchers, this means that we need to evaluate the student success assessment process and predictive algorithms with different learning models in mind. What works in the in-person environment may not work in the online environment, and vice versa. We need to have a better understanding of data generated from the learning management system and differentiate learning behaviours in different learning models or platforms.
Another area of change to come is the increasing use of different pathways to educational achievements. Competency-based learning, micro-credentials, stackable credentials, micro-masters degrees, and experiential transcripts, will add more complexity and much-needed changes to the traditional credit-hour-oriented education model. For institutional researchers, this means that counting degree completions and measuring student outcomes suddenly gets more complicated. We need to welcome such changes and develop the right data capturing and management system to reflect such changes.
Lastly, we are going to see more and more institutions moving to cloud-based enterprise resource planning systems, customer relationship management systems, and data lakes. The cloud platform provides easier expandability and faster response time to organisational needs. For institutional researchers, this means at least two things:
- How will cloud-based solutions disrupt your data access, reporting, and quality control practices?
5. Complete this statement: In my role, I can’t operate effectively without …
… building a network of collaborators on campus. Without trusting and relying on the participation and professionalism of our colleagues on campus, and without strong support from the senior leadership, the road to analytics maturity will be a steep uphill climb with little hope of success. People are the most important element in the data analytics equation.
 Terenzini, P (February 1993) ‘On the Nature of Institutional Research and the Knowledge and Skills It Requires’, Research in Higher Education, 34(1), accessed 14 July 2021.