Workgroup no. 8 runs through different enrollment, major data

Analicia Haynes, Managing Editor

 

Workgroup no. 8, Academic Visioning I, walked through the different files of data that is provided to members at its meeting Monday.

Jeff Stowell, the chair of the workgroup and psychology professor, introduced the different sheets of data that are shared on the one drive folder the workgroup established.

He told members he wanted to introduce the data given and open the floor to discussion and questions and reminded members that they could ask for more data if needed.

“We’re starting to gather data and I think part of it is helping each other understand where the data is coming from and we need to start sifting through it,” Stowell said.

Stowell, after accepting the assignment last week, pulled up the first sheet of data, which was provided by admissions and said he took the table that consisted of information for all the different majors on campus and combined the information into an Excel document.

He displayed the worksheet he created, based on the table the group was given last week, that depicted the growth of majors, in percentage, from fall 2011 to fall 2015.

Since the workgroup is charged with analyzing data to see what will work for the university, Stowell said when working with large data sets sometimes criteria for what is deemed meaningful needs to be established.

Stowell said when questioning the growth in certain areas, it would be helpful to keep in mind that they are looking at an established number, or the growth percentage, and to not leave out smaller majors because of the potential growth.

“It’s encouraging to me to see that this many (majors) have had significant growth while we are losing enrollment in others,” Stowell said.

Nora Pat Small, the interim department chair for history, said she looked at the data sheet Stowell displayed and was wondering if it would be more useful to have a mean or median rather than depicting the growth as a percentage.

“So for example an Art BFA indicates decline by 2 percent over those years but they actually increased by seven students between 2014 and 2015 and there are whole bunch of them,” Small said. “We don’t get the long term trends here and we don’t see what’s really happening say since ‘07 when things went south.”

Stowell said the data provided to all the workgroups already contained the set years including fall 2011 through fall 2015.

However, Stowell said that there is a rich source of data that if needed, the group could go back 10 or so years.

The data is found on the Eastern website under the budget institutional research section and reaches as far back as 2002.

Amy Rosenstein said she wonders if some of the numbers that were in decline have to do with an increase in new programs and offerings that have pulled numbers away from certain areas.

Stowell said the group is looking for growth opportunities and he sees the data as a guide to show them where growth can be seen and then ask if programs were able to obtain a large number of students or not.

Small recommended the group be careful with how they use numbers and what they mean.

“There’s no face value here, it is all interpretation,” she said.

In addition, Stowell said additional information is not captured by the numbers listed and Britto Nathan, biology professor, said some of the numbers, such as those in biological sciences, are difficult to interpret.

However, Nathan said this gives a road map of what is happening and Stowell said this is just one piece of data.

“I’m hoping that with the other pieces (the group will) start to see some common themes among different sources which then we can say well this is not just one data sheet we’re looking at,” Stowell said.

Stowell said he wants the group to be able to say they really do have sufficient data to justify any recommendations they eventually will make.

 

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]