Student organizations need guidance from time-to-time. Usually this is where advisors come into play. Staff and faculty often provide a voice of wisdom and ensure student organizations feel adequately supported.
Some advisors take it to the next level and aid organizations with events, decision-making, and assessment among a laundry list of other items.
Let’s remind ourselves that advisors are often staff and faculty who have other responsibilities other than their assumed role as a certain organization(s) advisor. Time begins to come at premium as advisors balance their efforts between multiple roles. Efficiency becomes a must!
This is where quantitative data can largely help advisors guide students to make better decisions as they relate to programming, budgeting, and overall sound decision-making in their organizational roles. As student leaders organize events and plan future events, quantitative data can help both student leaders and advisors create effective programs for their various student populations.
Data needs to be collected at each event
There are a few ways quantitative data can be collected at each event whether it be a large campus concert or intimate poetry slam. One of the best ways to understand the effectiveness of programming on campus includes knowing the student demographics that attend each event.
How do you know how many first-year students are attending Welcome Week? What type of students attended the late night popcorn study session in the library?
Creating a list of attendees by using student ID swiping, barcode scanning, digital ID’s, or event manual entry are a few different ways to track student engagement. Through accurate attendance data, it’s easier to justify costs for each program as well as understanding the needs of the diverse student populations on your campus.
Data needs to be interpreted by both advisor and students
Quantitative data provides insight that can be shared during an organization’s meeting. With the help of software like Check I’m Here advisors and student leaders can quickly access data from past events and build custom reports that can be shared during meetings.
Reports can outline and provide hard evidence of success, shortcomings, and spark ideas for future events. Advisors have a unique role where they have the ability to use data to peel back the layers of involvement and get to the core of what works for students.
Hold students and staff accountable
Blimling (2013) describes how the student affairs field is moving toward a climate of accountability. Budgets have become increasingly tight due to retention and enrollment and changes in allocating funds to each division or department. Blimling (2013) states,
“collecting and analyzing information to improve the conditions of student life, student learning, or the quality and efficiency of services and programs provided for students,” (p. 13).
Through effective assessment, programs are more likely to persist with help from data and evidence. If the effectiveness of a program can be shown, then administrative, financial and student support may increase or continue for the next semester or fiscal year.
For advisors, making informed decisions saves money, time, and results in hosting events that provide value on campus. Encouraging accurate data collection will not only help student affairs professionals but easily allow them to highlight the good and build off the bad when reviewing programming data with student leaders.
Our own Kayley Robsham asked the #sachat community about using quantitative data with students,
#sachat: How do you utilize quantitative data to help student leaders make better decisions in regards to programming on campus?
— Kayley Robsham (@kayleyrobsham) September 24, 2015
Here’s what some #sapros had to say,
— Brianne McDonough (@briannemcd) September 24, 2015
— Dan Taylor (@DanMJT) September 24, 2015
@kayleyrobsham data you’ve collected about programming? explaining data in easily understandable ways. Asking stu to interpret themselves
— Jörg Vianden (@jvianden) September 24, 2015
Blimling, G. S. (2013). Challenges of assessment in student affairs. New Directions for Student Services, 142, 5-14.