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Spotlight on Strategy with Dr. Erez Lenchner

At the IEHE, we are always excited to have the opportunity to highlight the incredible work being done by our colleagues. As part of the launch of Data Strategy in Colleges and Universities: From Understanding to Implementation, edited by our own Kristina Powers, we’re bringing you a series of profiles of the higher education professionals who share their knowledge and expertise in the book.

Dr. Erez Lenchner, of the Institutional Effectiveness team at CUNY John Jay University, wrote Chapter 11: Institutional Researchers’ Perspectives. This chapter is devoted to the campus personnel who are typically responsible for providing data to internal and external stakeholders.

Key Chapter Takeaways

In the chapter, Erez references a study of student course pathways and the relationship to academic success (Tsuruta et al., 2013), which examined the question, “Is it possible that some of our students know better how to navigate our systems than we do?” The authors found that engineering students who did not follow the proscribed coursework path, taking a different sequence of classes which worked for them, were actually more successful. As a result, the institution re-configured their recommended pathways to encourage more students to be successful.

Erez says the biggest takeaways from his chapter are integrity of the data and training people how to use it effectively.

“In Institutional Research, we are not classically trained to teach data information. But in order to be successful getting campus partners to effectively use data, you must have a robust training program.”

Dr. Erez Lenchner On the Process of Writing

A former professor taught Erez to write everything he wanted to express on a sticky note, and then rearrange them in the order they should appear in the narrative, story-board style. While he now takes a more electronic approach to that process, he finds that it allows him to organize his thoughts, and really saves a lot of time. Once he has a crystallized idea he want to include, he keeps that sticky note on the side of his work space as a reminder of the goal. This helps align the writing of the rest of the chapter.

An Excerpt from Data Strategy in Colleges and Universities:

Excerpt from Chapter 11 of Data Strategy in Colleges and Universities: The scope of work of institutional researchers, as well as their relations with internal and external stakeholders, has changed dramatically since the inception of the field. The most significant changes have taken place over the last 15 years of the field’s 60 years. As information has become more and more widely distributed, consumed, and interpreted, institutional research (IR) has become less and less siloed. Students, faculty, and staff members previously seen as data consumers (or “clients”) are now viewed as decisionmakers who analyze, interpret, and utilize IR data on their own (Swing & Ross, 2016). These changes have coincided with changes in technology, college structures, and the training of researchers and data consumers.

Want to read more? Order your copy of Data Strategy in Colleges and Universities: From Understanding to Implementation now! You can also read more about the chapter authors and an extended excerpt from the book.

Do you have a unique writing strategy like the sticky notes approach described above? What special techniques do you use to organize your thoughts when working on a big writing project? Tell us about it in the comments below.