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Institutional Research and Assessment's Role in Campus Research

Interview with Dr. Mahmoud AlBawaneh - May 2016

Recently, Mahmoud AlBawaneh, Director of Institutional Research and Assessment, talked to Research @ the Beach about how his office supports the research needs of the campus.

Q. The Office of Institutional Research and Assessment plays such an important role in data gathering and dissemination for a University. Can you elaborate on the various responsibilities IR&A holds regarding research at CSULB?

A. The mission of the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment (IR&A) is to enhance University effectiveness with information and research to support academic planning, student success initiatives, program reviews, institutional and programmatic accreditation, and student perceptions of teaching. We are also responsible for University compliance with mandated data requests and surveys from the California State University Office of the Chancellor, state and federal governments.

Another important role we fill is to collect, compile, analyze, interpret and convert institutional data into information, knowledge and business intelligence for institutional planning, policy formation and implementation, and decision-making. Of primary importance to our work is to gather, maintain, track and publish data on institutional performance and student success metrics including but not limited to student retention, persistence and graduation rates.   

Q.  How does IR&A support both faculty and student research?

A. We employ standardized data definitions and processes, innovative technologies, and best-practices to develop and maintain official institutional information. To support both faculty and student research, the IR&A compiles, analyzes and provides reliable and credible data for faculty grant applications and students’ projects, theses and dissertations.  We continuously provide statistical analyses and reports for existing sponsored and funded grants. Students and faculty may also use the IR&A website to get information on admissions, enrollment, graduation, retention, and persistence.

Q. We often hear or read the term "data-driven decision making" as a key practice in higher education.  How does IR&A support this culture?

A. It is important that IR&A facilitate a university culture that values evidence-based decision-making. By the nature of its work, our office tracks and monitors data for evidence of changes in trends and suggests strategies for improvement. For example, we keep track of degrees awarded by every department of the university. Particularly, we identify students who graduate with bachelor, master, or doctoral degrees. This information is often compiled in terms of discipline or area of study, gender, race, age, high school GPA, cumulative GPA, admission test scores or number of years the student studied to complete the program. Information on graduation rates is very useful because it measures the number of students who are able to successfully complete their studies in the university. Then administrators, faculty, and staff can use these findings for university planning and suggests strategies and solutions for improvement.

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