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2010 Conference

The Pacific Northwest Association for Institutional Research and Planning 2010 Conference was held at the Sandman Hotel Vancouver City Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia from Oct 3-5. This was our 31st annual conference.

The conference program can be found here PNAIRP 2010 conference program (PDF)

We hope you had a good time in Vancouver!

Theme - Institutional Research as a Social Science

The social sciences offer a systematic exploration of the social world, often with the goal of improving lives and effecting social change. As institutional researchers, we use social science research methods in an applied context. Our findings may be used to improve access, equity, and success for students. We contribute to understanding the experiences of non-traditional learners, and to mapping young people’s transitions into adulthood.

Presentations on all topics are welcome, and the following areas are especially encouraged:

  • Social science research methods in IR (e.g. experimental,  correlational, naturalistic observation, case studies, surveys, etc.);

  • Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods of measurement (e.g. assessment of student learning, student experience, performance indicators, etc.);

  • Statistical methods in IR (e.g. causal model, logistic regression, item response curves, etc.)

  • Social science content areas in IR (e.g. anthropology, cultural studies, economics, political science, psychology, etc.); and

  • Non-traditional learners, including Aboriginal, visible minority, and first-generation learners.


Sunday, October 3rd  

1:15-2:45 pm Pre Conference Workshops


Pre Conference Workshop

SPSS Syntax

Studio 2

Facilitator: Ashley Lambert-Maberly, University of British Columbia

SPSS’s syntax makes it simple to automate routine queries and preserves a record of data transformation.  In this workshop you will be introduced to the basics of SPSS syntax, learn some simple tips and tricks, and finally explore more complicated syntaxes used for modelling. Laptops are not required. Syntaxes introduced in the session will be available by email so participants can try them at their leisure.


Pre Conference Workshop

Qualitative Methods Affinity Group

Studio 3


Facilitators: Qin Liu, British Columbia Institute of Technology

Frank DiPuma, Capilano University

This interest group session provides an opportunity for participants to exchange their ideas and experiences in using qualitative methods for institutional research (IR). The following questions will be discussed in this session: How does qualitative methodology fit in IR? How does it compare with quantitative methodology? How can qualitative methods be used for IR purposes? What are some of the good practices? Participants are encouraged to contribute to the discussion and share their experiences from their own institutions.



1:15-4:45 pm Pre Conference Workshops


Pre Conference Workshop

Excel 2007 Pivot Tables

Studio 1

Facilitator: Joanne Heslop, BC Student Transitions Project

This workshop provides tips, tricks and hands-on experience in the creation and manipulation of Excel 2007 PivotTables and PivotCharts for intermediate and advanced users. The workshop begins with a brief review of PivotTable basics before moving quickly into the intermediate and more advanced features, tips and tricks of Excel 2007 Pivot Tables.




Monday, October 4th

10:30 – 11:15 am Concurrent Sessions Block 1


Panel: Studying Student retention and enrolment Patterns from Three Social Science Perspectives

Studio 1

Facilitator and Panelist: Rob Vergun, Portland Community College

Panelists: Maureen Pettit, Skagit Valley College

Joe Montgomery, Columbia Basin College

Each of the three panelists will be asked to discuss their research on student retention and enrollment patterns from the perspective of the social science discipline in which the panelist earned their degree. One panelist has formal training as an Economist (Rob Vergun), one panelist has formal training in Organizational Psychology ( Joe Montgomery), and one panelist has formal training in the field of Education (Maureen Pettitt). The goal of the session will be to increase awareness of how a typical issue in institutional research (i.e., retention and enrollment patterns) is viewed by researchers trained in different social science fields.



Dual Credit in oregon

Studio 2

Jonathan Jacobs, Oregon University System

In 2008, the OUS Office of Institutional Research, working with the Office of Community Colleges and Workforce Development, undertook a pilot study to evaluate dual credit instruction – courses taught in an Oregon high school, by a high school teacher sanctioned through a college, that carry both high school and college credit. This follow-up study completed in 2010 addresses two questions: (1) Do high school students who take dual credit courses succeed when they go on to college?,and (2) Does dual credit instruction do as well as college-situated instruction in preparing students for subsequent college coursework? This study looks at students who took dual credit courses in 2007-08.




Integrated Campus Planning

Studio 3


James Posey, University of Washington Tacoma

Renee Smith Nyberg, University of Washington Tacoma

Integrated campus planning refers to the connection of planning functions that include technologies, applications, and processes across an institution to improve institutional alignment, student success, clarity of direction, and financial performance. Many colleges and universities have a variety of major campus plans and if these disparate plans are not connected at the strategic and operational level,resource allocation can be less than ideal. This presentation explores integrated planning from an organizational development, institutional research and institutional effectiveness perspective; as well as provides suggested methods, tools, and steps to promote and implement integrated planning into a campus culture. Central to this exploration is the utilization of institutional research and applied behavioral science knowledge to foster collaborative partnerships to achieve integrated planning.




11:30-12:15 pm Concurrent Sessions Block 2


Learning from Your Classmates: A Multi-Method Assessment of Classmate Peer effects in first-Year Core Courses at Three Colleges

Studio 1


Jeffrey Parker, Reed College

Jon Rivenburg, Reed College

Jay Beaman, Lewis and Clark College

Neal Christopherson, Whitman College

We examine the impact of classmates on students’ learning in freshman discussion courses at three selective, Northwest liberal-arts colleges. Our goal is to learn what characteristics of individual class-mates—or of entire classes—are most conducive to successful learning. Our quantitative analysis explores the effects of measurable characteristics such as high-school record and SAT scores. Interviews with instructors broaden the scope to include attributes of personality and attitude.



Supplmnt 1

Supplmnt 2

Aboriginal retention & the NSSE: A Logistic regression Analysis at Thompson rivers University

Studio 2

Kristen Hamilton, Thompson Rivers University

The objective of this paper presentation will be to outline the research problem and methodology of a study on Aboriginal retention at TRU. The presentation will give a thorough example of the application of logistic regression (as well as other statistical tests) to a practical research problem in Institutional Research. National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) results factor prominently in the research.



Evaluation of reading

Prerequisite for Two Introductory Social Science Courses

Studio 3


Kael Godwin, Clark College

Shanda Diehl, Clark College

In Fall 2009, the college instituted a COMPASS reading prerequisite for Introduction to Sociology and Introduction to Psychology. After an academic year, Institutional Research is conducting an analysis to examine the impact of this prerequisite on course success. The authors will perform a logistic regression to determine whether or not the reading prerequisite had any impact on students’likelihood of success. Because retention and course success are highly correlated with unemployment, the model will control for unemployment and other demographic predictors of success. The objective of this research is to evaluate the effectiveness of adding a prerequisite to two introductory social science courses, Introduction to Sociology and Introduction to Psychology.




1:45 – 2:30 pm Concurrent Sessions Block 3

Panel: IR, Whiteness and Institutional Change:

Revisiting Bias through the Lenses of Power and Privilege

Studio 1

Facilitator: Tonya Benton, Highline Community

College Panelists: Ian Olson, University of Alaska-Fairbanks

Barbara Smith, The Evergreen State College

As many institutions face rapidly changing student populations, accountability for educational equity is increasing. In addition, there is a growing need for diverse cultural perspectives as educators, administrators and researchers. IR professionals play an important and powerful role in data collection and reporting for their respective institutions, and can influence the success of an increasingly diverse student population.  Panelists from four institutions will describe examples of how data reporting resulted in institutional change toward increased equity and will share their perspectives on the role of whiteness as a significant bias in IR and in higher education. The objective for this session is to create awareness of the whiteness of IR as a profession and how that fact can impact educational equity, campus climate,faculty recruitment and retention, and student success.



An Exploration of Twitter Use and Networks among Northwest Universities

Studio 2

William O’Shea, Pacific University

The objective of this paper is to understand the use of Twitter among institutions in the northwest through the exploration of profile information and networks created through friends and followers. Institutional Twitter accounts were identified by searching Twitter and institutional websites. The account information will be mined to examine when the account was started, total tweets, and number of folders and friends. The lists of followers and friends will be analyzed for connections among institutions.



Using Community and Technical College Student Achievement Data for State-Level Accountability Purposes in Washington State

Studio 3


Deborah Stephens, Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges

The purpose of this presentation is to show how community and technical college data from the system’s performance funding mechanism, the Student Achievement Initiative, is used at the state level as an accountability tool. Washington’s Governor Gregoire implemented Government Management Accountability and Performance (GMAP) in 2004. This presentation will examine how data generated from Washington’s Student Achievement Initiative is used for accountability within the GMAP model. The presentation will provide information on how the data is presented to the Governor and her senior staff, how the data has allowed the administration to identify issues within the college system, and the reactions and additional uses of the data at the statewide policy level.




2:45 – 3:30 pm Concurrent Sessions Block 4

The Student Transitions Project (STP): Linking Data Across education Systems to follow the Success of B.C. Grade 12 Graduates Into Post-Secondary education and on to Credential Completion

Studio 1

Joanne Heslop, BC Student Transitions Project (STP)

Devron Gaber, STP Steering Committee/BC Council on Admissions and Transfer

The Student Transitions Project (STP) is British Columbia’s collaborative and longitudinal research project, measuring student success from the kindergarten to grade 12 (K-12) education system to the post-secondary education system. Data is linked via a nine-digit personal education number (PEN) assigned to every student entering the BC education system. The STP is relatively unique in its ability to link students between the two education systems in order to track their student transitions and outcomes, while protecting personal privacy. This presentation includes a brief description of how STP was developed and summarizes some of our recent research findings. We will show how the information can help the government, school districts and post-secondary institutions with planning and policy decisions. A number of research questions will be answered, including information on student transitions to post-secondary education, program and credential destinations, student mobility and credential completion.



Planning and Surveys Made Meaningful: Influences from Social Science

Studio 2


Jennifer Tucker Klein, Brandman University

This presentation explores social psychology theories in order to help institutional researchers deliver research that has structure and meaningful results. Attendees will be exposed to a few time-tested models in social psychology, and will learn how these models can be easily applied to both survey construction and assessment of students. Using a case study, fashioned with a project storyline, a “storyboard” will be presented with a cast of characters-- including roles of institutional researchers,administrators, and historical figures from social psychology. The case study will show the thoughts and actions of each of the characters, and how each of these individuals contributed to the research development process and survey construction.Data collection methods will be discussed and explored for relevance to the study goals and theories.



At-Risk First Year Students with D/W/F Grades

Studio 3


Lina Lu, Portland State University

Probably the best warning sign that students are at risk for attrition is if they exhibit pooracademic progress or intention to withdraw. This presentation will use the 2004 freshmencohort of a 4-year institution as an example to identify those students with D/F/W, tracktheir term-to-term retention of the freshmen year, and secondary year retention as well.The paper also analyzes these students’ characteristics, and their 6-year graduation ratescompared to those who didn’t have D/F/W at first year.Implementations will also be discussed at the end of the presentation.




4:15 – 5:00 pm Concurrent Sessions Block 5

A visual approach to peer identification using Tableau

Studio 1

William O’Shea, Pacific University

This paper aims to define a group of institutions based on IPEDS data for use in making comparisons in the CUPA salary benchmarking system. This group should have similar qualities in terms of financial and size characteristics, but should be large enough to provide sufficient coverage of the disciplines in the CUPA benchmarking system. A group of institutions was defined that were fairly similar on several measures of institutional size and financial circumstance. The final group defined through this process was also more reasonable in terms of Carnegie and regional representation than the overall CUPA population.



Fredrickson’s Broaden and Build Theory as an explanation of Student Perceptions and Success and retention rates

Studio 2


Joe Montgomery, Columbia Basin College

Historically, psychology has been somewhat negative in orientation, through an emphasis on human weaknesses and liabilities, abnormalities, developmental difficulties, pathology and treatment modalities. The research presented here adopts the Broaden and Build Theory of Barbara Fredrickson (2009) to propose a new understanding of student success and retention. Columbia Basin College incorporated Fredrickson’s measure of positivity in its spring, 2010, student survey.Our hypotheses are that students who are higher in positivity will report a more positive educational experience, perceive fewer barriers to success, experience greater resiliency in addressing barriers, demonstrate greater engagement in their education,and perceive higher levels of motivation towards completing their education.



The river and the eddies: Following nursing students through a collaborative delivery system

Studio 3


Roseanne Sovka, BC Ministry of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development

The BC model of distributed program delivery allows nursing students to begin the fouryear program at selected community colleges and transfer to the University of Victoria to complete their nursing credential. The key objectives of the study were to contribute to the assessment of the collaborative delivery model by mapping of the student flows from the colleges where students start their program to the university where they complete it and to measure retention rates at important transition points.



Tuesay October 5

9:00 – 9:45 am Concurrent Sessions Block 6


Panel: Student Success Model in Action

Studio 1

Facilitator and Panelist: Nancy C. Fair-Szofran, Mt. Hood Community College

Panelists: Gary Rice, University of Alaska-Anchorage

Larkin Franks, Mt. Hood Community College

This panel will provide information about implementation/incorporation strategies and initial impacts on institution decision-making and strategic planning using the alternative Student Learning Success Tracking Model employed at Mt Hood Community College and University of Alaska-Anchorage. The model is designed to address the major limitations of the traditional Student Graduation Rate Success Metric. The model represents a paradigm shift in thinking about how we assess and communicate what we are about as an institution of higher education in our society. It is also built on the foundation of assessment “as it really is” by tracking the things we really do to assess successful learning progress and judge the degree of instructional mission fulfillment. The panel presentation will focus on strategies employed and hurdles encountered during implementation, incorporation of findings into institutional decision-making, and initial impacts (both internal and external) experienced at a two-year college and four-year university as the findings start to enter the mainstream of student success accountability.



Finding factors: Using exploratory factor analysis to test a performance measure

Studio 2


Roseanne Sovka, BC Ministry of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development

British Columbia has an annual performance-based accountability framework for all public post-secondary institutions. This study presents the results of an exploratory factor analysis regarding the performance measure related to skill development.The presentation will include results from a 2009 study based on survey data from diploma, associate degree and certificate students which showed a clear factor structure consistent with the performance measure, and a 2010 study using survey data from bachelor degree graduates and apprentice students to test the similarity of the factor structures to both the previously found factor and the performance measure used for public post-secondary institutional accountability.



When the government became sole lender: Institutional research observations from Canada’s ten years of providing all student loans directly from government to students

Studio 3


David Rogers, StudentAid BC, BC Ministry of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development

Last year, the U.S. Department of Education became the exclusive lender for most U.S. student loans. This is called a “direct lend” system since the Department no longer subsidizes banks and other lenders to provide the loans on its behalf. “Direct Lend” is a role which Canadian departments of education took on ten years ago.This presentation outlines a few of the things which government analysts have done with their heightened access to student loan data. The intent is to suggest things which U.S. institutional researchers could consider in their own research on student lending, now that lender data is owned by the Department of Education instead of being owned by banks.




10:00 – 10:45 am Concurrent Sessions Block 7


Pathways for Native American Students: A report on Colleges and Universities in Washington State

Studio 1

Barbara Smith, The Evergreen State

CollegeKayeri Akweks, WA State Board for Community and Technical Colleges

Gathering together information on 44 colleges and universities, Pathways for Native American Students: a Report on Colleges and Universities in Washington State explores the challenges and many ways of engaging the resources of institutions to serve Native American students. The report includes strategies to increase Native American participation, access and success in higher education settings as well as recommendationsfor reform and policy improvements. The report also includes profiles of 44 colleges and universities, describing Native American/Alaska Native faculty, staff, and students; academic programs and courses; public service programs;and student support services focusing on Native Americans.



What happens when prerequisites for core math classes are changed?

Studio 2


Gordon Bower, University of Alaska-Fairbanks

Until 2008, an ACT score of 20 at University of Alaska-Fairbanks resulted in a recommendation to take developmental algebra; placement into freshman-level math required an ACT score of at least 22 for MATH 103 (concepts of modern mathematics) and 23 for MATH 107 (Functions for Calculus) or MATH 161 (Business algebra.) Beginning in fall 2008, students with ACT scores of 20 or 21 were offered the choice of going directly into MATH 103 without first taking the developmental algebra course. As of July 2010, we have made a preliminary analysis of the pass rates in core math for the last two years, broken down by how well prepared the entering students are; and we have observed that allowing the students with ACT 20-21 to choose between DEVM 105 and MATH 103 has split them into two subgroups with distinctly different chances of success in their respective paths.



Taking IR to the Classroom

Studio 3


Maureen Pettit, Skagit Valley College

While some institutional researchers have opportunities to work with faculty on student learning outcomes assessment, they are less likely to interact with students at the class level. In this session, participants will be introduced to some strategies for involving students in the work of the IR office. Taking IR to the classroom builds relationships with faculty and gives students an opportunity to learn and practice in the “real world.” Several examples of how this has worked in such courses as technical writing, developmental math, developmental English, and reading will be shared. Participants will be encouraged to share their own experiences working with students, discuss the barriers to doing so, and brainstorm some ideas for working with students on their own campuses.




11:15 – 12:00 noon Concurrent Sessions Block 8

Showcase Presentations: Two 20-minute showcase presentations will be offered back-to-back

“Dreams of an Integrated Information System for a Data Driven Culture”

“U.S. Census Data ferrett – Tutorial and Application”

Studio 1

Karen Matheson, University of Washington-Seattle

In facilitating an evidence-based culture of program delivery, the Office of Institutional Research and Office of Information Technology have been working together to design and build a technologically advanced information system capable of integrating existing college program data with student, mentor, and institutional data. Goals of the information system include organizing data for ongoing program evaluation, integrating data sets with data external to the college, and making valid and reliable program data available for research.

Jonathan Jacobs, Oregon University System

Imagine you are asked the question: In your county, what percentage of 18-24 year olds are attending college?  Can that be split by race/ethnicity?  While US Census has canned reports answering general questions, U.S. Census DataFerrett is a powerful tool to get customized data for specific questions such as this. This is a free web data mining tool, provided by the US. Census, which has a number of demographic and socioeconomic data elements which can be filtered as needed to create a fully customizable cross-tab report, even for small regional areas within a state. This presentation will include a live tutorial and explain application to university researchers.


KM Present

JJ Present

Jump starting College Success

Studio 2


Judy Redder, Clackamas Community College

Jessica Walter, Clackamas Community College

Research into student engagement and retention often cites the struggles of first term freshman, especially those at a community college, and emphasizes the importance of the first few weeks of the student’s first term in future successes. Students are often unprepared or unaware of the demands of college, are overwhelmed by the educational system, and too often are afraid or don’t know who to ask for assistance (Levitz, Noel, & Richter, 1999; Schnell & Doetkott, 2003).For many years Clackamas has offered student success courses to help address these issues. Participation in these classes have varied.  In 2008, Clackamas offered a ‘bundled’ set of college success courses, designed to be taken prior to fall term,and referred to as “3 for Free”.  Currently, Clackamas data is limited regarding the efficacy of college success courses.  As a result, this study is an attempt to fill a gap by identifying and grouping students into three groups; 1) those who participated in “3 for Free”; 2)  those who did not participate in “3 for Free” but took at least one college success course during their first term; and, 3) those who did not take college success courses.  Data from these three groups are used to examine the following student success measures - fall to fall retention, term to term persistence, transfer-out, first term and cumulative course completion rates, and GPA.



Whose space is it anyway? Perceptions of the role of power and community in the allocation of resources

Studio 3


Michelle Nilson, Simon Fraser University

Matthew Menzies, Simon Fraser University

David Paterson, Simon Fraser University

The decisions that are made within an institution impact all its constituents. Day-to-day habits of decision-making form a reciprocal relationship with an institution’s culture, both contributing to and produced by its dynamic development. It is therefore important for decision-makers to understand the culture of the institution they are a part of. In particular, academic institutions have to make important decisions with respect to the shared and in-demand resource of physical spaces. This study specifically focuses on how culture both influences and is influenced both by community members’ perceptions of spaces in a Faculty of Education, as well as by their perceptions of decision-making processes relating to the use of space.



Keynote Speaker: Tony Penikett

Tony PenikettTony Penikett has enjoyed a broad-ranging career in politics, negotation, and mediation. From 1985 to 1992, he served as Premier of Canada’s Yukon Territory, during which time his government negotiated and signed an umbrella agreement for First Nation land claims in the territory.

He has also served as a Senior Policy Advisor in Saskatchewan and as Deputy Minister of Negotations for British Columbia. His book, Reconciliation: First Nations treaty making in British Columbia, was published in 2006. He is currently a Vancouver-based mediator, and teaches in Simon Fraser University’s Master of Public Policy program.

Conference Sponsors

We would like to thank all our sponsors for the 2010 conference and in particular;

Delegate Bag Sponsor

Conference bags for every attendee provided thanks to Tableau Software


Refreshment Break Sponsor

A well needed break during a long day of attending presentations brought to you with thanks to Jitsu Tech

Jitsu Tech


Please also thank our other sponsors