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02 Jan 2013

sharon-roggeBy Gabbi Hall

We chatted with Sharon Rogge, assistant vice president of Student Data and Analysis, who has been with SNHU for more than three years and has been doing database work for more than 20. She likes that data can be sorted and cleared of clutter to paint a picture of how we can improve student success.

How does your work impact student success?

Everything we do is geared toward that. The reports that we provide, the analysis that we do, everything we pull for the various departments is assessing how students are doing, what are the barriers that they are facing, and trying to provide insight into areas in which various people can make an impact.

For instance, we make grade book reports for the advising teams (that) allow them to look at the whole student body by advisor and see all the grades that a student is getting, on every assignment, every discussion board. Are they participating? When did they last log in? Have they been clicking around the site? In the last two days, how many times have they been on? It gives a clearer picture of a student’s efforts. The advisors get to know their students, and they get a sense of how they are performing. They can look at this and see “Gosh, something’s going on. So-and-so has not logged on for five days, and they are usually on every day.” They can stay involved, and it helps them stay connected.

How many data requests do you get?

We have a steady stream of data requests throughout the term. One of the standard views we provide on key performance indicators (KPIs) is how they compare to the same time/term in the previous year (as the data is seasonal). We are also layering on new levels of oversight (e.g., academic team leads, Advising and Student Success team leads) and this ushers in both modifications in cuts to existing reports and new reporting as KPIs are developed and refined. Ad hoc requests come in from all levels, and with 500-plus users and only a handful of analysts (seven), these requests must be filtered and sifted for relevance and actionable content. More requests come in than what we are able to produce, but this speaks to the culture within COCE and SNHU – everyone has a sense of commitment and responsibility to the success of our students.

What is the most interesting thing about data analysis in higher education as compared with other industries?

It’s an extremely rich data source. It touches on the student’s whole life. We have them with us for such a long period of time. We’re intertwined with their daily routine, with their family, with their goals and aspirations. I think probably the longevity of our relationship with the student is something you don’t see in other places. And it changes over time, too.

What advice do you have for people who are uncomfortable with numbers or overwhelmed by data?

It’s their data. It’s there to make sense of what they are responsible for. It’s kind of like having a messy desk. You can have papers all over your desk, and you can’t make sense of anything. You don’t know where things are. If you organize it, and you put things in piles, suddenly things make more sense. It’s more efficient. Organization is good.

What is your favorite part of working at SNHU?

It makes me happy to come here every day. Everybody has such a good attitude. It’s a positive atmosphere, and we’re doing something good for people. I love academics. It’s not something we’re doing for our own gain. We’re doing it for other people. I like that about it.