Optimizing Data Quality for Actionable Insights with Texas Tech University

Optimizing Data Quality for Actionable Insights with Texas Tech University

The actionable insights that power data-driven decisions come from quality data. Craig Morton, Associate Director of the Office of Planning and Assessment at Texas Tech University (TTU) and Laurisa Perlberg, Digital Measures Client Success Manager, shared TTU’s journey to improve data quality to bolster reporting for faculty credentialing and other needs at the recent Association for Institutional Research (AIR) Forum. Here are the highlights.

What Is Faculty Activity Reporting?

Faculty’s activities are wide ranging and encompass all aspects of teaching, research and service, as well as faculty’s qualifications, including education, certifications, licenses and more. These activities tell the story of an individual faculty’s achievements, and illuminate your university’s impact for stakeholders. Faculty activity reporting software captures faculty accomplishments in a format that allows them to be used for reporting such as:

  • Choose a Partner, Not a VendorFaculty review processes, including annual reporting and promotion and tenure
  • Accreditation reporting, including faculty qualifications and impact
  • Reporting to stakeholders including state legislatures, United States Department of Agriculture and others
  • Promoting your institution to donors, prospective students and faculty
  • Showcasing expertise to the media

Defining Data Quality

How does Digital Measures measure data quality? Perlberg shared the four dimensions we consider:  

  • Completeness is the measure of whether data needed to feed your reports are indeed present in your system. There are three components of completeness:
    • Median records per user per year for “core” activities
    • Percent of “core” activity fields that are populated with enough data to understand the activity
    • Percent of dated records for “core” activities, because when activities happened is important for most reporting
  • Consistency in data collection ensures that all activities of a certain type are entered the same way, in a single source field, and that they can be consistently extracted to feed any report that requires the information.
    • Percent of records for “core” activities where the “Type” and “Description” fields have been used as intended
  • Currency is the measure of how up to date your data are, and therefore how accurately it measures your faculty’s most recent activities. The more you can count on “fresh” information, the more often faculty activity reporting software will be seen as the go-to source for on-demand information requests about activities and accomplishments.
    • Median records per user for “core” activities
  • Accuracy, which is assessed by the institution.

“These metrics, when scored and weighted, rollup in to an overall data quality score,” Perlberg said. “And those scores can be broken out by college, so you can see just where data quality can be improved to better support institutional reporting, strategic planning and other data-driven decisions.”

Why Data Quality Matters

TTU uses faculty activity data for a range of purposes, Morton shared. “We need faculty activity data for Texas House Bill 2504 as well for SACS [Southern Association of Colleges and Schools] accreditation, including faculty credentialing,” Morton said. In addition, TTU’s Office of Planning and Assessment uses faculty activity data for degree program assessment and strategic planning.

Data Quality Drives Reciprocity

The pursuit of quality data “builds a reciprocal relationship between departments and the institution,” Morton said. “We meet with department chairs to be sure the data we capture is valuable to them as well.”

Annual review and tenure and promotion reporting are valuable to departments. “If meeting those needs gets us good data—meaningful, efficient, useful and reliable data—then departments will promote the value of faculty activity reporting to faculty,” Morton said.

When high-quality data informs faculty annual reports, it also ensures the quality and completeness of institutional reporting such as credentialing for SACS. “Institutional Reporting can now report as well as justify what they tell SACS, and that’s because there’s value to the departments in the data.”

Improving Data Quality at TTU

TTU put its data quality on the right track with an implementation decision to integrate data from source systems including Banner, grant software, course and evaluation systems, and internal software. When TTU received its data quality assessment from Digital Measures, it looked for opportunities to improve. They took steps including:

  • Cleaning out inactive accounts of former graduate students and instructors who left the institution.
  • Updating records that lacked key data, such as department or tenure information
  • Reaching out to departments where specific data posed a challenge

Interested in capturing quality faculty activity data to support decision making, university processes or other reporting needs? We’re here to help. Contact us today.

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