As the landscape for institutional sustainability in higher education becomes more and more challenging to navigate successfully innovative institutions have increasingly turned to more rigorous, methodical, and data-centric approaches to understand the issues specific to their institution and how to address them. The availability of data in its rawest form has increased exponentially, and now include such sources as National Student Clearinghouse, Complete College America, and of course one of the earliest data repositories, IPEDS (The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System).
Last fall, HelioCampus released its first version of the IPEDS Explorer tool at the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) Annual Conference. The feedback we received was even better than we anticipated, coming from a wide array of higher education thought leaders, executives, and administrators who are “in the trenches” every day working to improve student and institutional success.
The rich opportunities that exist in the IPEDS surveys have historically been tremendously underutilized. This is likely because the vast amount of effort needed to build a functional and useful data warehouse that appropriately reflects the diversity of higher education left precious few resources to develop ways to return the data to users in a digestible form. We addressed this gap by building a fully functional, longitudinal data warehouse that tapped into the panoply of data received by IPEDS. Our data engineers corralled the dozens of tables and thousands of data elements for over 7,000 schools across over a decade into a set of data extracts to support an easy to use, intuitive, and dynamic interface available free of charge.
Version one of IPEDS Explorer was a first-of-its-kind tool to allow users to quickly select and visually compare a set of schools using a number of standard metrics important for higher education institutions. Designed to take advantage of the wealth of data schools have provided for decades to support institutional improvement and student success, HelioCampus used its expertise in data modeling and warehousing to create derived metrics that have heretofore only been touched upon by researchers, such as educational and related expenditures, and made these metrics relatable to student-related success metrics such as graduation rates. Such a perspective would take even skilled researchers weeks to develop. With IPEDS Explorer, this analysis takes literally seconds.
The most appealing aspect of IPEDS Explorer, based on feedback from our colleagues across the higher education field, is the intuitive and visually striking nature of how these complex data are presented. But we wanted to make the tool even better. So, based on your feedback, we went back and reviewed the IPEDS Explorer to make it more intuitive and more useful than ever before. Our goal is to expand its audience to anyone with an interest in student success, be they skilled data sorcerers or leaders who lack the time to dig into raw data.
New features include:
- An improved introduction and overview of the tool to provide context and background for users less familiar with IPEDS data sets
- New tutorials to reflect the needs of typical users
- Guided questions that help the user interpret the data
- Contextual guidance to help the users understand the implications of the data
- A more intuitive user interface
- Better performance
- Updated, most current data, including provisional data
You can request access to the latest and greatest version of the IPEDS Explorer at www.heliocampus.com/IPEDSexplorer. Please feel free to visit, explore, and provide feedback on how it might be improved. We designed this tool as a service to the community, and will continue to make improvements based on your needs!