Survey Says… Now What?: Translating Data into Practice in Higher Ed

Concurrent Session 3

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Design, data, and dissemination- oh my! Using research to promote changes in practice and policy is no walk in the park. Join our research team for a down-to-earth discussion on how to engage in data-informed decision-making at your institution.


I'm originally from St. Louis, MO, but my career began in Nicaragua. After completing my bachelor's degree in international development, I worked as an educator and principal for several years before returning to the United States. Since that time, I earned my Ed.M. International Education Policy from Harvard Graduate School of Education, and an MA. Sociocultural Anthropology from Columbia University. After moving back to Missouri, I joined Southeast Missouri State University as the Online Instructional Coordinator. In this capacity, I collaborate with faculty and staff to promote high-quality flexible learning experiences. My current focus is on building processes that support data-informed decision-making in content delivery, assessment, and technology adoption.
Andrea Thompson is an Online Program Specialist with Southeast Missouri State University. In this position, she acts as the primary advisor for online degree programs housed in the College of Education, Health, and Human Studies and the College of Humanities and Social Science. Andrea holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Missouri- Columbia and an MA in Higher Education Administration from Southeast Missouri State University. She is currently completing her Doctorate in Educational Practice and Leadership at the University of North Dakota.
Institutional research professional with over 10 years of experience at various levels of higher education. I earned my Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of South Florida and my Master of Public Affairs from the University of Missouri. Employed as a Research Analyst with the then-Missouri Department of Higher Education from 2011 - 2013, then as a Senior Research Associate at St. Louis Community College from 2013 - 2017. In 2017 I joined Southeast Missouri State University as the Director of Institutional Research.

Extended Abstract

Many universities collect staggering amounts of data. Unfortunately, it often collects dust instead of being used to drive decision-making. In this session, we will explore how to engage in research that leads to action. This session is rooted in a mixed methods study that our team conducted in May 2021 on the experiences of fully-online undergraduate and graduate students at a comprehensive regional university. After providing an overview of our study design, we will discuss the process of collecting and analyzing quantitative and qualitative data. From there, we will highlight challenges that emerged in disseminating our findings and translating them into practice and policy. Next, we will explore how we documented data-informed decision-making for our accrediting body. Finally, we will share lessons learned during this process and our plan for future iterations. To promote interaction during our presentation, participants will be encouraged to submit questions, insights, and anecdotes pertaining to each stage [study design; data collection and analysis; translation; documentation; iteration]. The final 10 minutes will be set aside for discussion and idea-sharing. Attendees will depart this session with a list of key considerations and questions for each of these five stages. While this session is accessible to all attendees, it is particularly geared towards researchers, administrators, instructional support staff, and technologists.