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The Need for a PhD in Institutional Research. John Willse The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Why We Need a PhD in Institutional Research (IR).

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The need for a phd in institutional research

The Need for a PhD in Institutional Research

John Willse

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Why we need a phd in institutional research ir
Why We Need a PhD in Institutional Research (IR)

  • There are currently no doctoral programs with an explicit focus on Institutional Research (IR), but almost every institution of higher education has an institutional research function.

  • IR offices have traditionally been staffed by persons holding doctoral (or Master’s) degrees from related disciplines in the social sciences

    • Many professionals are master’s level and may come from programs in Higher Education or related fields.

  • Professionals develop many of the skills they need “on the job”

    • Positions in IR are becoming increasingly specialized, making this ad hoc training inadequate.

  • The need for IR professionals will only increase with ongoing changes to accreditation (and general accountability) requirements.

    • Regional accrediting bodies (e.g., Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) now place more emphasis on institutional effectiveness than ever before.

Why we need a phd in institutional research ir1
Why We Need a PhD in Institutional Research (IR)

  • IR jobs essentially work on an apprenticeship system.

  • Individuals are hired based on how few skills they lack.

    • New hires usually have one, or at best two, of the three competency areas needed in an institutional researcher.

  • Current educational programs do not provide the correct compliment of courses.

    • If there were a program that prepared professionals with these skills, they would be highly attractive candidates upon graduation.

Ir functions are broad
IR Functions are Broad

IR is often tasked with

  • Collecting/cleaning institutional data

    • Requiring knowledge of information systems

  • Performing outcomes assessment

  • Performing forms of program evaluation

  • Presenting results and summaries

  • Disseminating information (often via the Web)

    IR products are most valuable when

  • When knowledgeable professionals are part of the process that defines the product

  • Results are presented in a broader context

Is ir a discipline
Is IR a Discipline?

  • The Association for Institutional Research (AIR), the primary professional organization for institutional research professionals, provides a good example of the growth of this field.

  • AIR began with 46 people in 1965 and has grown to a membership of 3,100.

    • Last year 1,700 people attended the AIR National Forum.

  • Institutional Research has grown into a distinct discipline with its own scholarly products.

  • AIR publishes and sponsors a number of publications: Resources in Institutional Research, Research in Higher Education, New Directions for Institutional Research, Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, and the Journal of Higher Education.

Extant programs
Extant Programs

  • Starting in 2001, AIR partnered with the National Center for Education Statistics to develop graduate certificate programs that would teach skills that would advance institutional research and the use of national data sets (e.g., IPEDS).

  • The certificate programs offer training in higher education and assessment studies, statistics and methods, data base design and management, Web page design and management, and effective reporting.

    • These are the same skills on which we focus for the proposed degree program.

  • Review of these certificate programs shows that they rely on one or two courses for each skill area

    • Totaling only 18 credit hours

The focus of the uncg program in ir
The Focus of the UNCG Program in IR

This program will give students the skills they need to

  • serve as a partner with administrators and faculty in developing research about the effectiveness of an institution of higher education

  • engage in effective analysis of educational data to answer specific empirical questions

  • perform reporting for accountability purposes

  • create, administer, and analyze surveys

  • design and implement student outcomes assessment plans

  • utilize student information systems

  • use the Internet and related technologies as a reporting tool

Interdisciplinary approach
Interdisciplinary Approach

  • The program objectives draw on what are normally considered distinct disciplines.

  • Empirical research design and analysis provides a foundation for the degree.

    • Courses will be provided by the Department of Educational Research Methodology.

  • If institutional researchers are to be partners in the process of determining institutional needs, defining research questions, and interpreting results in the context of student learning and development, than institutional researchers need to have a broad understanding of higher education in the United States.

    • The Department of Curriculum and Instruction (Higher Ed Faculty) will provide coursework in those areas.

  • If institutional researchers are to be savvy users of student information systems, national educational databases, and Internet based reporting tools they need appropriate training.

    • The Department of Information Systems and Operations Management will provide coursework in those areas.

  • The program/students will be actively involved in relevant professional offices on campus and across the NC.

Draft curriculum
Draft Curriculum

  • We are still obtaining permission to plan from GA

    • So our curriculum is likely to change

  • We currently envision the research methodology to be the anchor for the program

  • Higher education course and Information Sciences are each a major component

Curriculum and instruction higher education courses cui
Curriculum and Instruction Higher Education Courses (CUI)

  • CUI 602: Theoretical Foundations of Higher Learning E

  • CUI 607: Adult Learning and College Teaching E

  • CUI 606: Administration in Higher Education

  • CUI 661: Higher Education in the US

  • CUI 663: Program Planning in Postsecondary Education

  • CUI 745: Higher Education: Equity, Inclusion, and Learning E

  • CUI 751: Public Policy in Higher Education

  • CUI 753: Accountability in Higher Education

  • 15 hrs required + Up to 6 additional hours of potential electives

  • “P” indicates Prerequisite

    • possibly obtained in a Master’s program

  • “E” indicates Elective

Educational research methodology erm
Educational Research Methodology (ERM)

  • ERM 667: Foundations of Educational Measurement

  • ERM 668: Survey Research Methods

  • ERM 680: Intermediate Statistical Methods P

  • ERM 681: Design and Analysis of Educational Experiments P

  • ERM 682: Multivariate Statistics

  • ERM 728: Factor Analysis and MDS or

  • ERM 731: Structural Equation Modeling

  • ERM 732: Hierarchical Linear Modeling

  • ERM 604: Methods of Educational Research P

  • ERM 642: Program Evaluation P

  • ERM 643: Applied Program Evaluation

  • ERM 675: Data Presentation and Reporting E

  • 15 hours required + Up to 18 additional hours of potential prerequisites or electives

  • “P” indicates Prerequisite

    • possibly obtained in a Master’s program

  • “E” indicates Elective

Information systems operation management all classes 1 5 hrs
Information Systems Operation Management (All classes 1.5 hrs)

  • ISM 600. Desktop Data Management Tools

  • ISM 601. Business Processes and Technology

  • ISM 602. Business Data Systems

  • ISM 603: Web Design and Development

  • ISM 610: Enterprise Information Systems and Data Warehousing

  • ISM 611: Data Mining

  • ISM 654. Project Management E

  • ISM 657. Knowledge Management E

  • 9 hrs + Up to 3 additional hours of potential electives

When will the program be available
When Will the hrs)Program Be Available?

  • If we are given permission to plan this program could be available by in Spring 2008 or Fall 2009

  • Once permission to plan is obtained we may begin recruiting students to take courses before the program is officially open

    • The program would not be guaranteed to become an official program at that point

  • Flexibility with our current program allows us to provide similar course offerings right now

    • Our current program does require more measurement courses than most IR practitioners would need

Questions hrs)

  • Let me know if you have any questions or comments.

  • We are particularly interested in what you have to say about what would make a meaningful curriculum

    John T Willse

    [email protected]


    Assistant Professor

    Educational Research Methodology

    University of North Carolina at Greensboro