Targeted Affinity Groups (TAG)

Targeted Affinity Group (TAG) sessions are arranged as an afternoon of focused learning in a specific topic area. Each TAG includes a presentation by an invited speaker, a set of related concurrent sessions, and an open discussion. TAG sessions are located in adjoining rooms to facilitate networking with other professionals who share common interests.

2011 TAG Topics

  • Access

    Colleges and universities are faced with the challenge of providing access to a broad range of constituents. The opportunities for inclusion reach across a wide spectrum of educational formats. But there continues to be questions about how to ensure accessibility. Issues related to first-generation or low- income students, the impact of early decision/early action admission, and the wide range of online learning opportunities are a few of the topics that are often noted when discussing access. This TAG will focus on the issues related to access and how institutional research plays a role in addressing those issues.

    Opening Session:
    Dynamic Parameters of Educational Opportunity: Demographics, Labor Markets, and Globalization

    Presenter:

    Tom Mortenson, Higher Education Policy Analyst, Postsecondary Education Opportunity

    Category Descriptions


    Session Abstract:

    Opportunity for higher education includes access, choice, persistence, and attainment.  While access looks good, choice, persistence, and attainment tend to look bad.  As we have worked to create public and institutional policy regarding higher education opportunity, we have chosen to ignore the new demographics, changing labor market requirements for skilled labor, and globalization.  Our failure to create policy in the context of these realities has produced predictable and consequential results.

    Presenter Information:

    • Thomas G. Mortenson is Senior Scholar at The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education in Washington, DC and an independent higher education policy analyst. He has been employed in policy research and budget analysis roles for the University of Minnesota, Illinois Board of Higher Education, Illinois State Scholarship Commission, and the American College Testing Program. Currently Tom is editor and publisher of Postsecondary Education OPPORTUNITY, a monthly research letter devoted to analysis and reporting on the demographics, sociology, history, politics and economics of educational opportunity after high school. His studies have addressed academic and financial preparation for college, access, choice, persistence, attainment, and labor force entry of college graduates.
  • Affordability

    There is great concern in society about the cost of participating in higher education. Institutional researchers should be knowledgeable and qualified to participate in these conversations. Financial aid packaging, net-price calculations, and tuition discounting are topics that are important in these discussions, but the IR office may not be as informed on these issues as desired. This TAG will focus on affordability topics that should be a part of the IR knowledge base.

    Opening Session:
    Why Does College Cost So Much? What IR Professionals Need to Know About College Affordability

    Presenters:

    Alisa Cunningham, Vice President for Research and Programs, Institute for Higher Education Policy, Gigi Jones, Director of Research, National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), and Ken Redd, Director of Research and Policy Analysis, National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO)

    Category Descriptions

    Session Abstract:

    With college costs rising faster than family incomes, many believe higher education is now out of reach for the typical family. In addition, more students are having difficulty repaying their education debts. In this environment, how should IR staff respond to the question “Why does college cost so much?” This session discusses the latest trends in college costs and financial aid, particularly regarding the struggles borrowers have in repaying their student loans. The panel will offer advice on how IR officials should address questions about affordability.

    Presenter Information:

    • Alisa Federico Cunningham is Vice President of Research and Programs at the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP). She oversees all the organization’s research studies, project evaluations, and programmatic work. In addition, she conducts specific research and manages several projects related to disadvantaged populations around the world. Since joining IHEP in 1997, her work has addressed a broad array of topics, including higher education financing, student financial aid, minority-serving institutions, student persistence and attainment, international higher education policy, and opportunities for student access and success.
    • Gigi Jones was appointed Director of Research for the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) in February 2011. Previously, she was a senior research and policy analyst for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) and a research associate at the American Council on Education (ACE). Her work has focused on trends in federal student financial aid and enrollments of students of color in higher education.
    • Kenneth E. Redd is Director of Research and Policy Analysis at the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO). He came to NACUBO in 2008 from the Council of Graduate Schools, where he directed the organization's research and policy analysis efforts. Previously, he served as director of research at the USA Group Foundation (now Lumina Foundation for Education) and as a senior research associate at Sallie Mae, Inc. His work has addressed issues around college financing, access, and student financial aid.
  • Quality in Higher Education

    Given a climate that requires demonstration of the quality provided in educational programs and transparency in the meaning of the degrees we award, this TAG will explore a range of perspectives and initiatives on the related fields of degree definition, assessment, and accountability. The recently-released Degree Qualifications Profile (which took its inspiration from other nations’ qualifications frameworks) and its relation to accreditation, other models of quality assurance, and accountability practices will be the centerpiece of the discussion. The institutional researcher’s extensive involvement in this arena makes the topic of great important to our field, and this TAG will serve a significant role in the iterative shaping of the DQP.

    Opening Session: Bringing the Meaning of Degrees to Life: Definitions, Assessment, Tuning, and Qualifications Profiles

    Presenters:

    Cliff Adelman, Senior Associate, Institute for Higher Education Policy and Peter Ewell, Vice President, National Center for Higher Education Management Systems

    Category Descriptions


    Session Abstract:

    Given a climate that requires demonstration of the quality provided in educational programs and transparency in the meaning of the degrees we award, this TAG will explore a range of initiatives that attempt to shape, document, and/or support our credentials. The recently-released Degree Qualifications Profile (which took its inspiration from other nations’ qualifications frameworks) and its relation to accreditation, other models of quality assurance, and accountability practices, will be the centerpiece of the discussion. This TAG will serve a significant role in the iterative shaping of the DQP.

    Presenter Information:

    • Clifford Adelman, Senior Associate at the Institute for Higher Education Policy, has been a frequent presenter at AIR Forums, on topics including international comparative data, the Bologna Process, the geomobility of U.S. college students, factors affecting the completion of bachelor’s degrees, community college attendance patterns, and unanswered questions on the higher education of military personnel.
    • Peter Ewell, Vice President at the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS), is a globally-recognized expert on assessment (and the use of assessment information), program review, enrollment management, student retention, and institutional effectiveness. He has authored seven books and numerous articles on the topic of improving undergraduate instruction through the assessment of student outcomes.

  • Retention and Graduation

    Two major outcomes for higher education are student retention and graduation or completion. Many studies have documented the long-term benefits of completing a college education. Getting students into college is one important step, supporting them through to successful completion is another. This TAG will focus on research findings and best practices aimed at improving institutional achievement on this front.

    Opening Session: Basics and Best Practices

    Presenters:

    Sandra Whalen, Assistant Director, The Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange, Gerry Mc Laughlin, Associate VP for Enrollment Management and Marketing, DePaul University, Josetta Mc Laughlin, Associate Professor of Management, Roosevelt University, Richard Howard, Consultant

    Category Descriptions


    Session Abstract:

    Much of the current discussion in higher education is about retention and graduation. Issues surrounding these topics include subgroups of individuals, factors that limit graduation, and responsibilities of those in various roles. This TAG panel will discuss some of the basic aspects of retention and graduation and how key factors fit together. The TAG includes a specific look at the role of faculty and at the current political context.  In conclusion, we will highlight some of the most recent CSRDE award-winning best practices papers and projects for institutional research in student retention and graduation. Audience participation will be encouraged. 

    Presenter Information:

    • Sandra Whalen, is the Assistant Director of the Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange (CSRDE) at the University of Oklahoma, where she has worked since 2000. The CSRDE was founded in 1994 and has grown to over 650 two-year and four-year institutions which collaboratively share data, knowledge, and innovation. The CSRDE publishes annual retention studies which provide timely, comprehensive, comparative benchmarking data on retention and graduation. The consortium also hosts the annual National Symposium on Student Retention.
    • Dr. Gerry McLaughlin, is an Associate VP in Enrollment Management and Marketing at DePaul. He has also served as Director of IR at both Virginia Tech and DePaul. He has been active in AIR and various regional associations and is Editor of the AIR Professional File and IR Applications. He is a member of the CSRDE Advisory Board and has taught workshops at its annual meeting on retention and student success for the past five years. His areas of interest include strategic management, data management, and student graduation. He also works with the Illinois Longitudinal Data Consortium building a K-20 database.
    • Dr. Josetta McLaughlin, is Associate Professor of Management in the Heller College of Business Administration at Roosevelt University, where she is a former School Director and Department Chair of Management and Marketing. She is active in the Academy of Management, the International Association of Business and Society, the Association for Institutional Research, and other professional organizations. She is a member of the CSRDE Advisory Board and has taught workshops on retention and student success. Her areas of interest include strategic management of higher education, faculty and student persistence, and sustainable development. She organized and serves as faculty advisor to two student chapters of Net Impact.
    • Dr. Gerry McLaughlin, is an Associate VP in Enrollment Management and Marketing at DePaul. He has also served as Director of IR at both Virginia Tech and DePaul. He has been active in AIR and various regional associations and is Editor of the AIR Professional File and IR Applications. He is a member of the CSRDE Advisory Board and has taught workshops at its annual meeting on retention and student success for the past five years. His areas of interest include strategic management, data management, and student graduation. He also works with the Illinois Longitudinal Data Consortium building a K-20 database.
    • Dr. Richard Howard, is a recently retired Director, University-Wide, Office of Institutional Research at the University of Minnesota and professor in the department of Educational Policy and Administration. He has been active in AIR for 33 years and has served as Professional Development Committee Chair, Forum Chair, President, and currently as Editor of Resources in Institutional Research (RIR). He is a member of the CSRDE Advisory Board and has taught workshops at the annual meeting on retention and student success for the past five years.
  • Liberal Arts Education

    What are the challenges facing the liberal arts institution today? With the emphasis on professional employment, many consider a liberal arts education outdated. How do we sustain the role of these institutions in the array of higher education offerings? What are the hurdles to providing engaged student learning? Funding sources and faculty recruitment and retention may be issues to address for these schools. This TAG will explore the unique challenges and opportunities of the liberal arts education.

    Opening Session: Can We Improve Liberal Arts Education Without Breaking the Bank?

    Presenters:

    Charlie Blaich, Director of Inquiries, Wabash College and Kathleen Wise, Associate Director of the Center of Inquiry, Wabash College

    Category Descriptions


    Abstract:

    Although it is often associated with arts and sciences coursework, liberal arts education is rooted in a set of high-impact teaching practices including high-quality student-faculty interactions, academic challenge, and interactions based on diversity. Institutional efforts to improve these good practices often focus on adding high-impact experiences such as learning communities, undergraduate research, and immersion courses. These changes, however, come at a cost. Unfortunately, the current financial environment threatens our institutions' capacity to add such programs. This presentation will explore whether there are less costly ways of improving the impact of liberal arts education.

    Presenter Information:

    • Charles Blaich is the Director of the Center of Inquiry at Wabash College and the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium.
    • Kathleen Wise is the Associate Director of the Center of Inquiry.