I spent yesterday visiting the University of Oklahoma main campus for the annual conference on legal issues. While there, I had an opportunity to refresh my understanding of a few issues I confront in the institutional research trenches. I attended a session on FERPA issues, some basic issues surrounding intellectual property, as well as some developments on immigration law as it impacts admissions.
I am occasionally called upon to collect summary figures on variables critically important to USAO and our various stakeholders. Often, this involves comparing ourselves to other institutions or aggregates of the same. I recently did just this and thought I would share some of these comparisons with my readers.
The comparisons that follow are all based upon data pulled from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) for the 2013-14 academic year (the most recent data available typically lags a year behind the current). Key USAO figures are compared against an aggregate of schools with membership in the Council Of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) and an aggregate of Oklahoma colleges and universities with public governance.
Results for last year’s National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) are in and they look pretty good for USAO. I have uploaded a report for those brave souls that want to see some of the details (link below). For the rest of your, I thought I would provide a brief overview of these results.
What is NSSE?
NSSE is a survey administered to college and university freshman and seniors all over the United States and Canada. The idea behind this survey is to get a decent estimate of collegiate quality. To the extent that students at a given institution work on more rigorous assignments, collaborate with faculty and participate in enriched academic and social activities, schools vary in academic quality. For more depth on the nature of NSSE and what it measures, please see the official NSSE 2014 Results Report, or check out last year’s discussion on the topic.
In order to put USAO’s academic quality into some sort of context, I have created a few comparison, or benchmark groupings. The first of these is the Oklahoma Public group. Schools from our own state of Oklahoma with public governance (and funding) are included in this group. That is, assuming they participated in NSSE this year. I use these schools as a basis for comparison, not just because we have the same boss (the Oklahoma taxpayer), but also because current USAO students would likely have selected one of these schools had they not elected (wisely) to enroll here. This is a pretty decent way to figure out if that decision was a good one. Spoiler alert: It was.
It is time, once again, to discuss USAO’s enrollment figures. Overall, a single theme is evident to describe these figures, and that is the theme of increased stability. It seems that after a number of years of pretty steady declines in enrollment, we may be entering into a period of relative stability, or at the very least reduced enrollment losses. Without diving into the potential causes of these enrollment figures, which are complex and likely include demographic, cultural or structural changes of myriad flavors, I will briefly describe our current enrollments compare to our observations from previous years.
Beginning with our enrollment figures overall, we see a small decrease (just above 1%) in headcount from last year. A closer examination of these figures demonstrates that this decreased headcount is driven by further reductions in part-time enrolments, though some full time enrollment declines are evident. Figure 1 demonstrates this trend for the past few years.
Being a polymath sometimes isn’t a brag, it’s a way of life, a work life anyway when you are a librarian. In Lori Goetsch’s 2008 article ‘Reinventing Our Work: New and Emerging Roles for Academic Librarians’ she argues that work in libraries isn’t changing as much as completely being revolutionized to keep pace with civilization’s technological advances.
In short, a librarian in today’s world can’t just know their Library of Congress shelving locations–now they have to be as skilled in computers, customer service, and archives. Once long ago each of these skills was reserved for a specific member of the staff and that was their sole purpose. In the past years that has changed to where each member of the staff has to be able to wear many hats or find a new job.
‘Udemy’ is an educational website much like ‘Khan Academy’ that allows students to take courses online on various and assorted fields of study. Unlike Khan, some courses have to be purchased and as it follows a for-profit structure of content delivery. It is a great resource for both students and techers.
Vaunda gave us a piece of her mind by filling out her Summer Course Evaluations for 2014. To thank her we gave her a $50 Amazon gift card. She said it will go towards getting a new pair of headphones so she can rock out while she studies.
Thank you Vaunda!
Raychel told USAO Assessment and Institutional Research her thoughts about her summer courses–so to say thank you we gave her a Google Chromecast so she can watch the internets on her TV!
Thank you Raychel!
I want to send out a huge “Thank You” to all you new USAO students participating in last week’s Freshman Orientation. You were all great sports and a valuable source of information. The information you provided will be invaluable to us as we work to demonstrate that USAO’s type of educational experience is worth every penny.
Over the next few days, I intend to add some preliminary results on some of those assessments to this page. If you are at all curious, make sure to visit us again. Best of luck on your first academic term!
Patricia gave us her two cents and so we gave her our 2500 two cents in the form of an Amazon Gift card! We don’t know how much she will get to spend of it though–the kiddos sounded like they already knew what they were getting.