The Importance of Data, Information, and the Commitment of Good People at Colleges and Universities: Our Students Do Not Have to be Afraid Anymore!

Data is very important in terms of work, meetings, relationships, meeting goals; but it also can be very important on day-to-day achievement and the setting and meeting of personal goals.  It can make a difference in everything we do.

There are reasons for those attending a college or university to be afraid:

  • Suspect is Killed in Attack at Ohio State University that Injured 11
  • Two students committed suicide at different times last fall. It was night and they were alone.  Their friends knew they said they were going to do that, parents knew about it but never believed it would happen.  Both of their parents even knew about the time and place, but did not take it seriously.
  • On a campus in the northeast, as part of campus tours, students are taken to “suicide” gulch. Some years on that campus, over 10 students have taken their lives, usually at night, and usually alone.

DATA

WE DO NOT THINK OF THE THINGS AROUND US AS DATA – THEY ARE JUST THERE.  THEY DO NOT BECOME DATA UNTIL THEY CREATE A PROBLEM FOR US.

Data is very important in terms of work, meetings, relationships, meeting goals; but it also can be very important on day-to-day achievement and the setting and meeting of personal goals.  It can make a difference in everything we do.

Data often makes a difference in whether a student meets his/her academic goals or even survives for another day.

Data is most important to those working with students on a day-to-day basis; student services, staff, faculty, college or university friends and others.  They need to be aware of their environments and the data it presents as they move through it.

  • In the cases of the individuals above, people had data about these students – they were thinking of suicide. In the case of the campus tours, someone could have looked at data and could have seen correlations over the years.
  • Each of the actual and potential disasters could have been prevented if people had paid attention to the dangers around them or had turned the data into information and acted to prevent them.

The data YOU use may be more important than that used by the president and vice presidents.  Data is especially important if one knows how to use it.

  • WE GET SO MUCH DATA EVERY DAY THAT IT IS HARD TO KNOW WHAT IS IMPORTANT. Data can be qualitative or quantitative.
  • FINALLY, DATA IS HARD TO USE, WE DON’T KNOW WHAT THE DATA IS SAYING TO US, AND WE DO NOW KNOW WHAT IT MEANS.

In regard to that last point, let’s assume the definition that DATA WE CAN ACT ON IS INFORMATION.

Information is valuable because it can affect behavior, a decision, or an outcome.  For example, if a manager is told his/her company’s net profit decreased in the past month, he/she may use this information as a reason to cut financial spending for the next month.  A piece of information is considered valueless if, after receiving it, THERE IS NO ACTION TO TAKE.

Another difference between information and data is that information is a snapshot of certain data at a single point.  Data will always change as there is always more coming in.  Also, data is always correct – it is a tidbit of truth, a thing that has happened.

In response to these definitions, and data, and the work that you do, consider the following:

  • Seventy Five percent of Freshmen in colleges and Universities in our country are unprepared for academic work.
  • Most students need remedial classes.
  • Behavior towards students largely depends on individual attitudes of teachers, staff, and others, not on professional ethics. These attitudes are data and information that the students pick up each day.

The situation is especially bleak for those in the middle to lower incomes.  Those students do not receive the services or support that is awarded to those in the higher income group.

It would appear that a large number of graduates and others are not prepared for college; ask this question at your school.  The answer and your response may help many to achieve success.  The data students may send out may be attached to any item in the table below.

 

Day-to-Day Health and Wellness

Regarding students’ everyday health, this chart summarizes items that cause illness or behavior issues on campuses.  You may be the first one to notice signs of these problems in any of your students if you are paying attention to the data.

 

BLOOD PRESSURE

HEART

OVERALL HEALTH

NUTRITION

OTHER FACTORS SUCH AS FAMILY THAT ARE PART OF THE STUDENT’S ECOSYSTEM
OR ENVIRONMENT

 

 

ATTITUDES

SELF WORTH

EMOTIONS

REACTIONS TO PROCESS AND
PHYSICAL FACTORS

 

FINANCIAL SITUATION

 

PHYSICAL

VISION

NUTRITION

CHEMISTRY

BIOLOGY

 

 

READING

WRITING

MATH

COGNITIVE

 

USE OF TECHNOLOGY

BIPOLAR

 

 

 

ADDRESSING CHANGE

 

These are all factors that could be driving or restraining factors for a student.  If you can look for the restraining forces and try to eliminate them, then find driving forces and increase them, you will truly be serving your students.  We are all in the business of helping students to be successful.

As you begin to look at data and information, think about these items.  These, or a combination of these, could be a barrier to success unless you notice them and seek help for the students.

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