New dashboards are helping students make earlier, more-informed decisions about their likelihood of getting into competitive health-science programs such as medicine, dentistry, physical therapy, nursing, and physician assistant.
Using grade data and student success outcomes from previously accepted students, the Academic Advising Center and colleges developed minimum GPA requirements needed to retain pre-health program of study designations.
“Our goal is to help them understand the competitive nature of these programs and be realistic about their progress toward their goals,” says Lisa Ingram, assistant provost and director of academic advising. “We share this information in our earliest meetings with students and then meet each semester to evaluate their progress. This often helps students understand the need to create back up-plans in case they aren’t admitted to their competitive admission program or in case they change their mind.”
Before the dashboards, Ingram says the process of using data to form such policies was a cumbersome one—pulling data by hand and trying to make sense of many separate spreadsheets. The dashboard provides concise, compiled, easy-to-read data that easily informs development of the policies.
The university is increasingly reliant on and interested in data to inform decision-making and achieve strategic goals. OneIT recognizes that data is a critical asset and is working on a host of data initiatives to empower academic excellence, research discovery, and administrative efficiency and effectiveness.
Business intelligence growth
In just five years, the Data Analytics and Insights team in Information Technology Services has expanded from delivering analytics solutions in one data domain (enrollment management) to providing more than 215 solutions in 23 domains. The team has grown from one data architect to six, and utilizes predictive modeling expertise from four faculty and graduate students in College of Public Health Biostatistics.
The portfolio of data-analytics solutions includes tools that help administrators track trends in research within key characteristics such as research type, expenditures, and funding sources. University financial planners use the business intelligence (BI) solutions to improve budgeting and resource-planning, and student-activity dashboards provide insight into the utilization, efficacy, and impact of services such as late-night programming.
Dashboards focused on fostering student success illuminate opportunities for individual support referrals and intervention. The ability to slice and dice data by population, cohort, or demographic segments helps identify potential at-risk groups who might benefit from continued assessment or additional resources.
University Human Resources counts on a suite of data dashboards to track important metrics including employee demographics and well-being, turnover, and absence management.
“Business intelligence solutions have helped us gain a more complete picture of the make-up of the university workforce, identify potential areas of improvement for employee retention, and understand where we may be susceptible to retirements and need to look at staffing or succession planning,” says Joan Troester, senior assistant vice president and deputy chief human resources officer.
An authoritative data source
Much of the data lives in the institutional data warehouse, an Oracle datastore that consists of over 30 data domains, 30 terabytes of data, and nearly 800 direct-access data consumers and over 300 application service accounts. A platform known as Campus Data helps users easily track down, request, and share data.
“Campus Data unifies data solutions into a single repository, enabling end users and developers to easily locate, organize, access, and understand critical intuitional information resources,” says Brenda Ulin, lead data architect on the Data Analytics and Insights team. “With continued adoption, we envision it as the first, and hopefully only, stop for end users to find the data needed for informed decision-making.”
Promoting and protecting data
As the amount and complexity of campus data increases and the compliance and privacy landscape changes, the university is taking steps to formalize data governance.
An Institutional Data Governance Team is working on a data-governance framework that addresses data ownership, access, security, quality, policies, and processes. The team is also working to add structure to data-stewardship roles. Owners and stewards will be trained in their responsibilities.
There are plans to inventory and classify institutional data, and to develop data-usage standards and guidelines. A BI needs assessment will assess the university’s data priorities.
Also in the works are plans to advance the university data culture by increasing data literacy and awareness. The Institutional Data User Group (IDUG) and Business Intelligence Community (BIC) will help advance those efforts, along with trainings in the use of PowerBI and an institutional data day.
“There is a significant and growing hunger for data from nearly every college and unit on campus,” says Mike Noel, senior director of Administrative Information Systems in Information Technology Services. “Our overall goal is to make it easy for people to access, understand, and utilize the data they need.”