AACRAO Eye on Research November 2017

by Wendy Kilgore | Nov 30, 2017

AACRAO’S First Research Grant Award Winner

Rebecca Mathern is the inaugural year recipient of the AACRAO Research Grant.  The grant consists of a $2,000 stipend to be used towards the completion of an advanced degree.

Rebecca serves as University Registrar at Oregon State University and is a Ph.D. student in the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University. Her research is focused on shared governance and the role that upper-level, non-executive managers play in this process. For her dissertation, she is focusing on curriculum management and logistics and the role of the registrar. She will present her research at the 2018 annual conference.

The 2018-2019 research grant application process will start in May of 2018.  Details about the application and selection process are available at the website linked above.  We were fortunate to have a couple of excellent applications this inaugural year.  Our research advisory board evaluated the applications based on the criteria set forth on the web page.  We hope that the 2018-2019 grant application cycle will draw even more interest from our members.


AACRAO Research Updates

The November 60-Second Survey on data use, quality and access revealed the following key points. 
  • Two-thirds of the institutions with more than one person completing the survey submitted responses that differed from each other – that is, the respondents have different opinions and experiences with their institution’s data quality and use. 
  • Opinions about data use and quality varied by position title. 
  • In the aggregate, benchmarking data, external student outcome data and student engagement data are used by more than half. 
  • Respondents representing different position types have different opinions about the type of data used by the institution. These differences could be a reflection on how the question was worded.  We asked about data use in the business unit and separate units in the institution may use discrete sets of data. 
  • Almost two-thirds rate their data as “Excellent” or “Good”
  • Less than one quarter indicate that data is “Difficult to access” or “Very difficult to access”
  • Most are of the opinion that data created in one unit are available to other units and vice-versa.
  • Data use is reported as “Widespread” or “Very widespread” for one-third, yet nearly nine-in-ten see the need for data use to be “Very widespread” or “Widespread” at their institution.
  • Most senior executives are viewed as either “Supportive” or “Very supportive” of the use of data to inform decision making.
  • Data use for informed decision making is viewed as effective by most.
  • The following response choices were selected by more than half of respondents as ways to improve the effective use of data in the future:
    • Ensure that data are timely, accurate, relevant, and accessible.
    • Provide education, training and resources to support the widespread use of data.
    • Connect data from different functions (e.g., student, personnel, financial, and facilities records).

We are working in conjunction with AICE on developing the January 60-Second Survey. The topic is the accreditation/recognition of international education. 

The issue of loss-of-credit at transfer was raised again with the August GAO report entitled “Students Need More Information to Help Reduce Challenges in Transferring College Credits.”  We are working on developing a research project aimed at shedding light on the root cause(s) of loss-of-credit based on institutional data and data from transfer students.  We also hope to compare the loss-of-credit among transfer students to excess credit at graduation for direct entry students.  This project is in its earliest stages.  Please email me (wendyk@aacrao.org) if you have any thoughts about this proposed project.

Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

SHEEO Report: Aligning Tuition Policies with Strategies for Affordability

Inside Higher Education writer Rick Seltzer summarized SHEEO’s new report with his article on November 9th.  In his article he notes that two-thirds of higher education institutions surveyed have no unified affordability strategy.  The report itself examines the methods states use to set tuition, fees and student aid.  Among other topics, the SHEEO survey asked about the components of state policy setting, factors influencing tuition setting and affordability reforms.

McGraw Hill Education: 2017 Digital Study Trends Survey

A thousand current college students participated in an online survey about digital learning technology (DLT) behaviors and preferences sponsored by McGraw Hill Education.  The report  based on this data drew the following conclusions:
  • “Online students are the most receptive to digital learning technology (DLT), being more likely to prefer and choose classes that utilize it.
  • Laptops are the most essential electronic devices used in student academic life.
  • Smartphones are not perceived as important studying tools. 
  • In general, students believe that DLT has helped improve their grades.
  • Student satisfaction with the college experience remains high and consistent with previous survey waves.
  • Students have clear communication preferences for interacting with professors and peers.
  • Although DLT succeeds in most areas, it struggles to facilitate increased engagement between students.
  • Media consumption through social media platforms varies significantly by age and gender.
  • YouTube and Netflix are the most popular media consumption platforms.”

Device Ownership and Usage

Source: McGraw Hill Education

Recommendations for Remaining in Compliance with Privacy Laws While Using Texts

Mongoose, a SMS management platform, recently posted guidance on how to remain compliance with both FERPA and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).  Although non-profit organizations are not legally required to get explicit consent to text, Mongoose recommends obtaining some form of opt-in at the inquiry stage, whether an opt-in box on the application or an inquiry form. They also provided best text use guidance based on six million texts sent by institutions who use their solution.  They found that students want deadline reminders, and updates from admissions and advisors.  They don’t want promotions, social media posts and links to websites

Predictors of Positive STEM-related Postsecondary Outcomes for Hispanic Students in Texas

The National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE) in conjunction with the Texas Hispanic STEM Research Alliance completed a large-scale evaluation of the predictors of post-secondary STEM success for Hispanic students in Texas.  The authors concluded, among other findings, that:
  • Math and science courses in high school were strongly correlated with postsecondary STEM success.
  • High school attendance rate was also strongly associated with postsecondary success.
  • Predictors were not unique to Hispanic students.

Blockchain Technology in Education

The European Commission’s Joint Research Center (JRC) released a comprehensive study on the possible uses and benefits of blockchain technology in the management of educational credentials and intellectual property.   I had to read up on what blockchain technology is in order to understand this report and I ran across this quote which helped me get my head around the technology. “The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.” (Source: Don & Alex Tapscott, authors Blockchain Revolution (2016)).

The JRC study concluded that there is room for this technology to transform education and that the use of this technology is in its very early stages of adoption.  The authors further conclude that blockchain technology -
  • Could accelerate the end of paper based education certificates
  • Removes need for institutions to validate credentials
  • May reduce institution’s data management costs
  • Could revolutionize the management of intellectual property
  • Significantly improves efficiency, effectiveness and security of data