April 2016 - Lessons learned from AACRAO's 60-Second Surveys

April 13, 2016
  • Research
  • Class Start times
  • ECM
  • SEM Analytics
  • SRM


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 13th 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)

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