Office of Institutional Research launches SAS® Business Analytics
Institutional research departments form the nucleus of data management, analysis and reporting for decision support at colleges and universities. Responsible for collecting, analyzing and reporting information about a school's students, faculty, programs and courses, Western Kentucky University's Institutional Research (IR) Office relies on SAS Business Analytics for data integration, analytical power and Web-based reporting capabilities – providing university decision makers with timely access to data and information that delivers deep insight into the affairs of the institution.
"The Office of Institutional Research has used Base SAS and SAS/STAT® for the past 16 years to build a strong data foundation, provide analyses and meet the needs of our users," says Tuesdi Helbig, PhD, Director of Institutional Research at Western Kentucky University. "Implementing the platform for SAS Business Analytics was the next logical step to help us provide our users with on-demand access to dynamic reports. The key benefit of the platform is time savings for both the IR office and its constituents."
Persistent and consistent information delivery
Nowadays, data and information requests from the school's executive offices, college deans, department heads and various administration staff can be delivered in much shorter periods to support decision making – instead of waiting days or weeks, as was previously the case. In most instances, school officials can get to the reports they need immediately from the university's institutional research portal.
"A clear benefit of the system is its flexibility," says Gina Huff, Senior Applications Programmer Analyst. "It takes some of the daily pressure off us and, more importantly, provides better service to our clients."
Because information is needed for a variety of reasons, school officials request data to be formatted in different ways. Before, members of the IR team would have to modify Base SAS programs and run a new report to accommodate specific needs. Now they just log on to the solution’s interactive tables and design reports exactly the way they want to see them.
"This also illustrates the efficiency our new platform provides," says Chris James, Applications Programmer Analyst II. "Deans can access one report, and with just a few clicks they can answer many different questions – it's faster and more flexible. When you're answering multiple questions with one interactive report it's clearly much more efficient."
This efficiency, Huff adds, "is achieved, in part, through data integration – a powerful feature of SAS."
Seeing the big picture
The Institutional Research Office is one of the few departments on campus that incorporates different data sources, such as combining human resource data with course information. The IR team is also beginning to integrate outside data sources to develop a better understanding of what it takes for a student to be successful at the university.
Helbig says the system provides administrators and faculty members with more insight into the school's overall performance than what they have had access to in the past, including program enrollment performance.
University instructors currently perform fifth-week assessments for all freshmen to ensure students are attending and passing courses by the fifth week of the semester. Given the critical role evaluations play in getting students back on track and staying at the school, deans and department heads can now track faculty completion of the assessments.
"Prior to the BI implementation, administrators could not determine who had or had not participated until it was too late," explains Huff. "Additionally, advisers can immediately see which students are having difficulty in specific classes and provide outreach to those who are underperforming."
To see the original article, click here.