Policies and Methods
The Office of Planning and Institutional Research provides information to support the planning and decision-making processes of Davidson College in accordance with its mission and goals.
The office accomplishes this mission through the following activities:
The Office uses enterprise data for analysis in response to campus questions, issues, and concerns, as well as to investigate broader national higher education issues. Requests for statistical information also come from internal offices and departments. Information provided by this office includes not only statistics, but the definitions and methodology used in their measurement.
The Office conducts research in response to questions raised on campus, issues in the media and higher education community, and in support of campus priorities. We work with individuals and departments to frame research questions, and provide results in formats that best meet their needs and those of the people with whom they wish to share results. The Office also participates in national and consortia survey research, works with campus departments and students to develop survey instruments, and promotes a comprehensive program of research that is timely, appropriate, and useful to the decision-making process
Requests for statistical information come from a large number of external agencies, including the federal government, consortia, and publishers of college guides. The determination of appropriate and consistent definitions of the data elements upon which this information is based is made in conjunction with other offices on campus, mindful of the constraints placed on these offices in terms of the requirements of the external agencies themselves.
Comparing Davidson with institutions identified as peers is an on-going process. The Office is an active participant in the process, assisting in the development of a benchmarking system that enables the college to assess its relative place among its peer institutions and to set institutional priorities.
Release of Data
The policy on the release of data to public sources is consistent with established best practices in higher education and among Davidson's peers, as well as in the best interests of the college.
We use a standardized, specific census date - October 15 of each year - for finalizing enrollment counts. Federal agencies to whom we are required to report data, consortia with whom we share data, and publications which make our data available to prospective students all recognize there is a certain amount of "settling down" that takes place in the first weeks of a semester and do not ask institutions to report enrollment until it is reasonable to assume the final class(es) are present.
This practice also assures there are not multiple versions of our enrollment counts and breakdowns out in the public. Not only does this lead to questions about the accuracy of our reporting, but many publications - the U.S. News annual ranking of colleges the most visible among them - take pains to verify the accuracy and consistency of the data we report and insist on a reconciliation of contradictory reports as a condition of inclusion.
Any questions about these policies should be directed to Laura Boyles (email@example.com) in the Office of Planning and Institutional Research.