Higher Education Analytics Center

The Higher Education Analytics Center at NORC leverages our extensive experience conducting research on higher education to bring effective and affordable research and data collection offerings to institutions of higher education and other organizations related to higher education.

The Higher Education Analytics Center’s focus is informed by our institutional mission and our non-profit status. Our aim is to provide post-secondary institutions and related organizations with the data and insights necessary to improve their function and inform their policy decisions to the benefit of students, alumni, educators, academic leaders, and the institutions, themselves. We approach all work with deep technical and methodological expertise, a spirit of collaboration, and a commitment to scientific integrity.

Our services range from large-scale cross-sectional and longitudinal data collection to analyses through individualized consulting on discrete issues that can be addressed by data analytics. We also provide consultation on evaluation methods and data collection design.

Career Pathways and Outcomes Tracking and Analysis

A student’s journey doesn‘t end when they leave school – it actually begins. Ideally, after the completion of a degree or training program, a student is prepared for success in the workforce. Understanding the actual trajectory of student’s life course and career outcomes provides educational institutions, policy makers, and future students with key information regarding the success of different education programs and degree awards.

NORC researchers track the career and professional pathways of degree recipients to determine how they contribute to the workforce and society, both here and abroad, and how these outcomes change over time. Often, career pathway projects collect survey data many years after study subjects have earned a degree or finished a program. Whether it is a high school graduation or doctorate degree award, NORC is expert at finding and surveying individuals after 1, 5, 10, and even 30 years after degree award. We have refined our search methodologies for individuals living in the U.S. and abroad, and are able to accurately supplement survey data with degree and career information abstracted from publically available sources.

Representative Career Outcome Projects:

Transitions into Success in Higher Education

NORC researchers and data collection experts collaborate with outside experts to gain insight into the many factors that influence whether and how potential students enter higher education. Our research has focused on several facets that influence this important transition, including: college advising (including virtual advising), financial aid availability, equity issues in access to higher education, academic preparation for higher education, assisting institutions with evaluating measures used in the admission process, and students’ decision-making processes in selecting institutions.

Representative Education Transition Projects:

Association Research Support

In addition to our work with institutions, we support professional and academic associations and other non-profit and commercial organizations that wish to collect data on or otherwise learn more about educational processes and outcomes. NORC tracks educational attainment and career outcomes by field of study to better understand workforce characteristics by both discipline and industry, and designs studies around the analytic needs of the client’s association or industry perspective.

Example Research Report:

Campus Climate Surveys

NORC conducts campus climate surveys on behalf of institutions that wish to obtain feedback directly from their student body, faculty, and staff about the incidence of sexual assault, students’ understanding of consent, institutional reporting procedures, and other important topics related to assault and misconduct. This critical data may be used to develop comprehensive solutions and evaluate their impact by comparing baseline results to future data. Often times, climate surveys also include question modules about diversity and inclusion, as they have for Rice University, Stanford University, The University of California, Berkeley, The University of Chicago, and Walden University.

See the Sparks blog posts for a discussion of the importance of collecting high-quality data on campus climate and the ideal methodology for doing so. NORC has also completed in-depth qualitative investigations of the working climate for faculty, particularly faculty women, on behalf of Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and a major Midwestern professional school.

Representative Campus Climate Reports:

Partnerships with Businesses

There is a growing recognition among both businesses and institutions that strategic partnerships between these two groups can provide benefits to both. When institutions align their educational programs with the needs of the business community, businesses benefit from an improved pipeline of well-trained, local talent. When businesses lend resources to institutions, students benefit from participation in work-based learning experiences (such as internships and capstone projects) and other High-Impact Practices.

NORC evaluates a number of these partnerships between institutions and businesses to provide a better understanding of how they benefit both organizations and, most importantly, the students. We are also currently engaged in developing a taxonomy of work-based learning experiences by gathering information from businesses and from students who have participated in such experiences.

Representative Business Partnership Projects

Other Institutional and Research Support

NORC’s Higher Education Analytics Center seeks to support institutions in other areas as well. This includes consulting on available data sources, conceptualizing and implementing data collection or evaluation projects on any scale, providing short or long-term analytical capacity to institutions or researchers, or any other services related to gathering and understanding data related to higher education. In addition to the topics described above, we have helped institutions and other researchers draft book chapters, create a system for benchmarking key outcomes for which no publicly available data source currently exists, gather data on how faculty and staff members utilize internal resources such as human resources and technology support, learn about students’ experiences with and use of tobacco, and study the civic engagement perspectives of post-secondary faculty.

Representative Institutional Support Project: