October 26, 2017 | Higher Education, Institutional Analytics

    Q&A with Justin Sloan: Evidence-Based Decision Making at St. Edward’s University

    Institutional analytics presents big opportunities around campus. From measuring and improving student success to financial sustainability, it’s crucial to access, understand and act on all available data at the institutional level.

    Recently, Justin Sloan, Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness and Planning and Chief Data Officer for St. Edward’s University, discussed how working with HelioCampus is impacting the mid-size Austin, Texas institution. From early implementation to the campus-wide sharing of top-level findings, the conversation explores how the analytics platform, ongoing services partnership, and analysis agenda is pushing St. Edward’s forward in building a data culture on campus.

    How did your institution implement HelioCampus? 

    We broke the implementation into five phases. Each phase culminated with the availability of dashboards for key areas across the institution, such as:  our application pool and our enrolled students, completion rates, financial aid, student success, and faculty demographics and workloads. We're really focused on those five aspects and the ability to drill into the revenue side of the university, and deepen our understanding new student demands. 

    How are you considering campus users to create a data culture? 

    One of the reasons we selected HelioCampus is because the platform leverages an enterprise quality visualization tool; our end users will run the gamut. We have designed our implementation so that high level findings are available throughout the university community, from Admissions Counselors to the President. We want to provide, at a minimum, descriptive information on where the University stands as a whole to all faculty and staff.  

    How is your institution’s investment in analytics enabling evidence-based decision making?

    St. Edward’s has seen the value in using data to help inform decisions, but not make them. We’re looking to access descriptive statistics that can be interpreted by someone without a statistics degree. This will help us measure that impact so that we can understand whether we should continue a particular practice, or discontinue it and focus on something more worthwhile.

    How will HelioCampus help you better understand your campus engagement analytics?

    First, it's going to provide, in a shared access methodology, the data. That seems very basic and rudimentary, but it's a challenge. When something lives in a PDF, and it's not tangible or current, that creates significant questions of its usage and relevancy. Putting information in a shared format is key to success with cases like enrollment or retention.

    Second, HelioCampus helps break myths. Now, we can very easily pull up data points to reach a conclusion about a specific area of interest across campus.

    Third, it gives us the opportunity to move forward in creating classification models because we've brought disparate data sources together. By creating these models, we can define “likelihood to persist” and “likelihood to retain,” which will help us prescribe action and ultimately serve our students better.

    What are some common misconceptions people have about data analytics?

    That it’s the solution. Data analytics are simply a way of presenting what's already captured in a different, more “actual” way. It’s finding information within the data.

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