• AACRAO Eye on Research May 2016

    by Wendy Kilgore | May 23, 2016


    Members Using AACRAO Research Resources

    I enjoy hearing from members about how they are using the research reports.  Most often members report using the reports to help convince others to either leave a practice/policy the way it is or to make a change in that practice/policy.  Some remark on how their supervisor simply wants to know how other institutions similar to their own are conducting business around a particular topic.  Others use the staffing assessments to help justify position changes.  Occasionally I receive requests to further disaggregate the data to a specific set of peer institutions or more refined set of institutional characteristics than those displayed in the reports, and I am happy to do so. 

    I’d like to hear about how you use, or want to use, the AACRAO research reports and to share that with other blog readers.  I’d particularly like to know how the research helped you make a decision or a change you were hoping to make. We will be testing the comments functionality available to us in the near future, but for the time being, if you’d like to share with me and with others please email at wendyk@aacrao.org, and I will include your feedback in the next blog.

    AACRAO Research Insights

    New Student Registration and Orientation – April 2016 60-Second Survey

    One of the well-attended sessions at the recent annual conference in Phoenix was entitled All Aboard: Registration Models for First Semester Students (Session#4520, Tues. 8:00 a.m.). The session covered how two institutions register domestic, first-semester students before, or in place of, on-campus orientation either through self-registration, registration by the institution on behalf of the student, or a combination of the two.

    Key Findings Self-Registration

    •There is a wide variety in self-registration and orientation practices.
    •In the aggregate, slightly more than half let freshmen partially or completely self-register, and almost two-thirds allow new graduate students to do the same.
    •Lower-division-only institutions are more likely to allow freshmen to self-register than other types of institutions.
    •On the whole, almost 3 out of 4 require freshmen to meet with an advisor before registering. 
    •Slightly more than half require new graduate students to meet with an advisor before registering.
    •In-person orientation is still required for more than half of the self-registering freshmen.  This practice is slightly less common for lower-division-only institutions.

    Key Findings Registration on Behalf of the Student

    •On the whole, 12% of institutions saw an increase in yield by providing either complete or partial registration on behalf of the student practices instead of self-registration. The majority saw no change in yield (87%).
    •6 out of 10 either partially or completely register freshmen on behalf of the student.  This is much less common for the undergraduate transfer population and slightly less common for graduate students.
    •Almost three-quarters required in-person orientation for freshman who have been registered in-part or in-whole by the institution.
    •Registrar staff and advisors are more likely than other areas to be responsible for completing the registration on behalf of the student.

    AACRAO Research Initiatives

    We will take a break from the 60-Second surveys for the month of June.  Our aim is to complete 10 a year skipping both June and December.  Please let me know if you have any topics for the 60-Second surveys.

    We are in the early stages on three projects outside of the 60-Second surveys.  One on the use of dual enrollment programs to support student success and SEM initiatives.  The other will potentially involve a case-study type of report on a few states who support transfer students well in order to help explain the gap between recent student level data reports which indicate that transfer students lose credits and other reports which indicate that most states have comprehensive mechanisms in place to support transfer between their public institutions.  The third is a career profile study for Director of Admissions to round out our career profile series.  The first project is tentatively scheduled for a November release and the second is for next summer at the Tech and Transfer conference.  The career profile deliver date is to be determined in the next couple of months.

    I will travel to DC this month for an ACE convening to discuss the next phase of their Dream Undone project.  We were also part of the first phase.

    Finally, the May 2016 issue of C&U (Volume 91 Issue 2) released on May 4th includes an article summarizing the key findings of the AACRAO 2015 research year.

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    Projections of Education Statistics to 2023 in the United States

    The National Center for Education Statistics released the education projections for 2023 in April. 

    Postsecondary projected increases by 2023-24 compared to 2011-12 data include:

    •First-time freshman enrollment is projected to increase 14 percent
    •Total enrollment in postsecondary degree granting institutions is projected to increase 15%.
    •The number of associate’s degrees conferred is projected to increase 39%.
    •The number of bachelor’s degrees conferred is projected to increase 15%.

    Undergraduate Cost of Recruiting Report from Ruffalo Noel Levitz

    In 2016 survey based on 2015 enrollment numbers of 206 four- and two-year institutions, Ruffalo Noel Levitz found that four-year privates spend the most with median of $2,232 per student.  Further details can be found by downloading their report.

    The Returns to College Persistence for Marginal Students

    A recent working paper produced by the Cornell Higher Education Research Institution shared the results of a study of “low-performing students who are dismissed from public 4-year colleges in Ohio”.  The aim of this study was to estimate the earnings impact of college on low-performing students.  The authors concluded that “low-performing students (on the margin of college dismissal) derive substantial earnings benefits from college”, are “approximately 10 percentage points less likely to graduate college” and those who are dismissed “suffer substantial earning losses measured between 7-12 years after college enrollment.”  They also present four categories of explanation as to why these students drop out.

    Public Research Universities: Recommitting to Lincoln’s Vision – An Educational Compact for the 21st Century

    The Lincoln Project: Excellence and Access in Public Higher Education an initiative of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences released its final publication by its members.  This report concludes their work on the causes and results of reduced state investment in public research universities and provides recommendations for bringing stability and renewed strength to these institutions.

    Postsecondary Student One-Year Mobility Rates

    The April 20, 2016 report by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center noted that almost 10 percent of all postsecondary students in the United States attended more than one institution during the 2014-15 academic year.

    Analyzing the Cost of Using Technology – A resource

    Not new but interesting nonetheless, the WICHE Cooperative for Education Technologies (WCET) in conjunction with the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) has a free set of analysis tools and step-by-step guides to “enable institutional leaders to analyze the costs of using technology in both on- and off-campus instruction.”  These tools are designed to help institutions make comparable cost estimates across multiple modes of instruction.

    NACUBO’s Looking Under the Hood Institutional Aid Metrics Benchmarking Tool – A resource

    I received a webinar announcement from the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), which referenced an institutional aid benchmarking tool that allows NACUBO and Association for Governing Boards (AGB) members to compare their various institutional grant aid metrics with the national average and with self-selected peer institutions.  According to the AGB, this solution can help institutions answer questions like:

    •“Are institutional-aid policies consistent with the mission and values of our institution?
    •Is institutional aid being delivered to the types of students we most want to see on our campus?
    •Is aid ultimately going to students who succeed (i.e., do students who receive our grants graduate)?”

    If your institution is a member of either of these groups and is not currently using this tool, you may want to look into it.

  • AACRAO Eye on Research April 2016

    by Wendy Kilgore | Apr 13, 2016


    April 2016 represents the 20th 60-Second Survey for AACRAO, and over the course of these surveys a few trends in practice, policy and staffing have become apparent.  First and foremost, there is no “one size fits all” for any of the above.   Variety and variance (i.e., standard deviation) are the norm across and between institution, size, type, and control.  Since we send the 60-Second Surveys to all active members, it is not wholly unexpected that the raw data often contain instances where more than one person per institution responds to the same survey.  However, due to the topics in the 60-Second Surveys (basic practice, policy, etc.), I anticipated that I would be able to simply select one set of responses from all of an institution’s responses because I assumed that all would be the same.  Unfortunately, the majority of the time the responses are not the same or even close to the same.  This is often true even when the respondents are from the same department.  While some of the differences could be accounted for by different interpretations of the survey questions and/or separate colleges within a university functioning as separate units with similar responsibility but different practices, the occurrence rate is too pervasive across all topics to be wholly accounted for with these explanations.  What this data appears to illuminate is perhaps a need for additional training, practice documentation, policy clarification or improved inter- and intra- office communication.  However, this is only conjecture at this point based on anecdotal feedback from some institutions contacted for clarification.  Perhaps these differences just represent what William Louis Stern found in his experiments where a chain of people told and retold a story, and by the end of the chain the story was not the same as when the first person told it.  Policies and procedures are often shared in an informal way with new employees and with other departments, so perhaps the differences in understanding of the policies and procedures exist simply because of the context in which the persons responding to the survey learned about it in the first place.  At this point, who knows?

    AACRAO Research Insights

    Included below are the insights gained from the most recent 60-Second Survey, from the Lexmark sponsored research on Electronic Content Management system ownership and its impact on student records practices, as well as an AACRAO research co-authored SEM Quarterly article.  The full reports are posted to the research page and a link to the SEM Quarterly article is included below.

    Class Start Times and Lengths – March 2016

    In response to the recent
    Inside Higher Education article about one institution's decision not to offer 8:00 a.m. courses, we developed this survey to capture a snapshot of in-person class start times and lengths at the undergraduate and graduate level and by calendar system. We were curious about the predominance, or lack thereof, of early morning, late night and weekend courses and institutional reasons for not offering early morning courses. It turns out that both early morning and late night classes are still offered by most institutions.

     Key Findings Undergraduate

    • The vast majority (91%) still offer classes that start between 8:00 a.m. and 8:59 a.m.

    • Almost a quarter offer classes that start between 7:00 a.m. and 7:59 a.m., and 4% have classes that start before 7:00 a.m.

    • More than three-quarters have classes that start between 6:00 p.m. and 6:59 p.m., and 12% offer classes that start at 9:00 p.m. or later.

    • Some institutions offer the very early and very late classes on Saturdays and Sundays as well as weekdays.

    • Less than one-in-five (17%) offer six hour courses.


     Key Findings Graduate

    • Fewer than three-quarters (68%) offer classes that start between 8:00 a.m. and 8:59 a.m.

    • Just 12% offer classes that start between 7:00 a.m. and 7:59 a.m. and 2% before 7:00 a.m.

    • Three-quarters have classes that start between 6:00 p.m. and 6:59 p.m., and 8% offer classes that start at 9:00 p.m. or later.

    • At the graduate level, Saturday course offerings are more predominant than Sunday.


    Building a SEM Analytics Reporting Portfolio
    The April 2016 edition of SEM Quarterly includes an AACRAO co-authored article designed to help college and university enrollment professionals initiate a SEM analytics reporting portfolio that focuses on shifting the attention of reporting systems from transactional data gathering to shared performance understandings.  This article has been reproduced here.

    Abstract: Effective strategic enrollment management(SEM) efforts require vast amounts of internal and external data to ensure that meaningful reporting and analysis systems can assist managers in decision making. A wide range of information is integral for leading effective and efficient student recruitment and retention programs. This article is designed to help college and university enrollment professionals initiate a SEM analytics reporting portfolio that focuses on shifting the attention of reporting systems from transactional data gathering to shared performance understandings that can be leveraged throughout the enterprise on a timely basis. By employing a K–20 student pipeline planning approach, the authors discuss reporting fundamentals for enrollment management data analytics, the components of a comprehensive reporting portfolio, strategies for building SEM -focused research organizations, and data interpretation methods.

    Ownership Prevalence of Electronic Content Management (ECM) systems and their Impact on Student Records Management (SRM) Practices

    There are some things in SRM we do solely because of governmental regulation and others we do pursuant to best management practice, or to both.  The world of SRM is increasingly more complex and for most, ECMs help simplify SRM.  Student records management is an important, large-scale, multi-format, active and ongoing endeavor, the ineffective-management of which imparts an eDiscovery risk and possible significant financial risk.  Among other findings, we found that some institutions appear either not to understand the importance of managing the entire student record lifecycle from creation to final disposal or to accept the cost (about $300 per breached record) and security implications associated with keeping all records permanently.

    Key Findings


    AACRAO Research Advisory Board Meeting

    Date: March 20 2016
    Present: Wendy Kilgore, Sam Fugazzotto, Christopher Tremblay, Veronica Garcia, Jason Brown

    The group was able to meet briefly on March 20th before the start of the AACRAO annual conference.  Several ideas were shared regarding the direction of AACRAO research and, in particular, the topic of how the group might best support the awarding of graduate research stipends. 

    Upcoming AACRAO Research Initiatives

    The April 2016 60-Second Survey will examine new student orientation and registration practices. May will serve as a touch point for the AACRAO and NASPA Lumina Grant by asking our members about their competency-based education practices.  As stated in last month’s blog, other future research includes a focus on student success initiatives, a report on the career paths of directors of admissions mirroring the registrar and chief enrollment officer career path reports. 

    This summer AACRAO research will host an intern.  Among other initiatives, he will be tasked with applying key word search functionality to the research reports page.  This functionality was requested by the research advisory board and other members recently.

    Current Higher Education Research and Related Topics

    Co-Requisite Remediation in Math, Writing and Reading

    The Tennessee Board of Regents found overall success in the system’s community colleges co-requisite remediation model. “This co-requisite model transformed their previous success rate of fewer than 10% of students completing a credit-bearing math class over several semesters to more than 70% completing a credit-bearing math class in a single semester.”

    What We Know About Transition Courses – Community College Research Center

    A recent WICHE policy alert email brought attention to a January 2016 report from the Community College Research Center.  This report summarizes ongoing efforts to create courses designed to help high school students succeed in postsecondary education and focused on a wide variety of issues.  The report concludes that “while more learning is needed to produce successful outcomes, current efforts to help students master college-level math and English provide an important foundation for states seeking to improve college and career opportunities.”

    Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) Freshman Survey Results for 2015

    The Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA distributed the results of the CIRP Freshman Survey.   This report captures “The American Freshman: National Norms of Fall 2015”.  Among other results, the survey found that among full–time, first-year freshmen, interest in political and civil engagement is the highest it has been “since the study began 50 years ago.”  It also included new questions about how students pay for higher education expenses and the findings suggest that Pell Grants “fall far short of the amount needed to pay for their first year of college.”

    America’s Skill Challenge: Millennials and the Future

    The Educational Testing Center for Research on Human Capital and Education released the first in a series of
    reports using data from the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC).  The research found that “while they (millennials) may be on track to be our most educated generation ever, they consistently score below many of their international peers in literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology-rich environments.”  The authors assert that there needs to be a greater focus on skills and not just educational attainment.

    Standardized Assessment of College Learning: Past and Future

    The Lumina Foundation sponsored a white paper
    report by New America and higher education think tank.  The author examines the evolution, effectiveness and future context of large-scale standardized assessment in higher education.

    Rising Tide II: Do Black Student Benefit as Grad Rates Increase?

    The Education Trust issued a companion paper to Rising Tide: Do College Grad Rate Gains Benefit All Students? The authors found “. . . that while a majority (almost 70 percent) of institutions we examined improved graduation rates for black students, those gains haven’t been large or fast enough to close gaps between black and white students. In fact, in many cases, these gaps have widened.”

    NMC Horizon Report 2016 Higher Education Edition

    The 13
    th edition of the higher education technology trends joint report by EDUCAUSE Learning Initiatives and NMC.  Both learning analytics/adaptive learning and the growing trend of students bringing their own device “(BYOD)” are “expected to be increasingly adopted by higher education institutions in one year’s time or less…” The report provides institutional examples of these technologies in practice.

    A Four-Letter Word – Using It to Avoid Bad Decisions

    Craig Stanford of Liaison International posted a
    LinkedIn Blog about the value of including an assessment of “risk” when higher education institutions are evaluating technology vendor proposals and other projects.  He makes a compelling argument that including an assessment of risk can change the results of the proposal evaluations.  His proposed evaluation formula is included here:

    (f - tco) / r = score
     (where f is Functionality, tco is Total Cost of Ownership and r is Risk)

  • AACRAO Eye on Research March 2016

    by Wendy Kilgore | Mar 10, 2016

    Included below are some insights gained from our most recent 60 Second Surveys. The full reports are posted to the research page. If you have any topics you wish to see addressed in the 60 Second Survey format, please send your ideas to Wendy Kilgore, Director of Research (wendyk@aacrao.org).

    FERPA training Practices – January 2016

    • Almost three-quarters require FERPA training for all new hires who work with student records.
    • One third require FERPA refresher training on a regular and recurring basis.
    • In-person training is the most common format.
    • Twenty-six percent (26%) provide FERPA training to parents, and most of that training is offered in person.
    • The registrar is the position most often primarily responsible for FERPA training.

    Curriculum Management Practices – February 2016

    • Less than 10% of respondents have a “stand-alone” curriculum office (i.e., an office that is a separate unit as compared to a function that is contained within another office or spread across multiple offices) and these offices typically employ 1-3 full-time-equivalent employees. 
    • About a third reported offering between 25-74 different academic programs (majors, minors, certificates, specializations, graduate programs).
    • Almost three-quarters use some type of technology to support the academic catalog.
    • Most only allow program/degree changes to be made effective just once per calendar year; less than half apply the same limitation to course changes.

    Building a SEM Analytics Reporting Portfolio

    The upcoming edition of SEMQ will include an AACRAO co-authored article designed to help college and university enrollment professionals initiate a SEM analytics reporting portfolio that focuses on shifting the attention of reporting systems from transactional data gathering to shared performance understandings.

    Upcoming AACRAO Research Initiatives

    The March 2016 60 Second Survey will take a look at the career paths of our members.  April’s will be a touch point update on Competency based education in cooperation with the Competency Based Education Network.  We are also wrapping up a joint project with Lexmark on electronic content management use and student records management practices.  The results of this project will be released at the annual conference in Phoenix.  Future research includes a focus on student success initiatives, a report on the career paths of directors of admissions mirroring the registrar and chief enrollment officer career path reports.  We are also working on developing a web-based assessment of the AACRAO admissions competencies and proficiencies. This assessment will be piloted as part of a workshop at the annual conference in Phoenix.

    Higher Education Research

    Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education – Feb. 1, 2016 Update

    The 2015 classification update was officially released on Feb. 1, 2016.  As summarized in the update, changes between the 2015 and 2010 additions include a change to the Basic classification specifically for Associate’s Colleges, new category labels for Doctoral Universities and others.

    Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Other and the Common Good through College Admissions

    The Harvard Making Caring Common Project released a report this January which asserts that the “college admissions process is powerfully positioned to send different messages that help young people become more generous and humane in ways that benefit not only society but student themselves”.  The report offers recommendations for reshaping the admissions process to address this position.

    Tracking Transfer: New Measures of Institutional and State Effectiveness in Helping Community Colleges Attain Bachelor’s Degrees

    The Aspen Institute and the Community College Research Center released a January 2016 report proposing “a common set of metrics” to measure the effectiveness of institutional initiatives to help community college student complete bachelor’s degrees.

    First Year Experience Courses for Students In Developmental Education

    A February 2015 U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences (IES) report from the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) which determined that these programs “have no discernible effect” on the success of this student population.