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Writing, data help available for Program Prioritization authors

October 23, 2015

Photo of fingers typing on a computer keyboardNIU’s Program Prioritization Coordinating Team is providing additional assistance for program authors over the next several weeks.

Four data workshops have been scheduled:

  • Monday, Oct. 26
    10 to noon, HSC Room 505
  • Friday, Oct. 30
    10 to noon, HSC Room 505
  • Tuesday, Nov. 3
    10 to noon, HSC Room 306
  • Thursday, Nov. 5
    10 to noon, HSC Room 306

Data Support Team (DST) Chair John Kearsing says nearly 100 data questions came into the Helpdesk data hotline in the first four weeks after the data uploading, and that almost all of those inquiries fell into one of three categories.

“In addition to basic questions about how to access the data, most people are asking for clarification on institutionally uploaded data, wanting help with interpreting data, or requesting custom data sets,” Kearsing said.

“A common question involves how to address their program’s portion of departmental human resources,” he added. “Another one we’re hearing a lot is confusion over the time period represented by the data and how to explain variances with current staffing levels.”

All those questions and more will be addressed at the data workshops. Custom data sets can be requested at that time as well, Kearsing said, provided program authors have a clear sense of the story they want to tell with the customized data set. In addition, workshop attendees can request help with narrative writing and get tips on how to explain their data to the task force members who will ultimately review their reports.

John Kearsing and Jeff Reynolds

John Kearsing and Jeff Reynolds

Jeff Reynolds, DST member and director of Academic Analysis and Reporting, also is helping program authors with data analysis. Data questions and requests coming into the Data Hotline – (815) 753-8100 – are reviewed and responded to by Reynolds and the other data mapping and reporting contacts on campus.

“I’ve been doing a lot of work helping people extract program-specific data from the department-level data they received,” Reynolds said.

“We’re building a more data-informed culture at NIU throughout this process, and much of that involves collaboration across the campus – data/reporting offices as well as program authors in taking existing data from reports we typically have worked up for internal and external reporting over the years and transforming those data into meaningful information at a programmatic level necessary for Program Prioritization.”

In addition to data help, the Coordinating Team is providing writing tips from the external panelists who visited NIU last week.

“All of our panelists went through Program Prioritization at their own universities, and they all had to write and read program narratives,” said Coordinating Team Chair Carolinda Douglass. “We culled these tips from the four different program narrative workshops they conducted. I think they’ll be very helpful to authors at every stage of the process.”

In addition, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is sharing its own list of writing tips.