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Planning Grant: Developing a National Higher Education Student Unit Record Database

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

NSF Grantees’ Poster Session

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.984.1 - 24.984.5



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Paper Authors


Matthew W. Ohland Purdue University and Central Queensland University Orcid 16x16

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Matthew W. Ohland is Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University and a Professorial Research Fellow at Central Queensland University. He has degrees from Swarthmore College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the University of Florida. His research on the longitudinal study of engineering students, team assignment, peer evaluation, and active and collaborative teaching methods has been supported by over $12.8 million from the National Science Foundation and the Sloan Foundation and his team received Best Paper awards from the Journal of Engineering Education in 2008 and 2011 and from the IEEE Transactions on Education in 2011. Dr. Ohland is past Chair of ASEE’s Educational Research and Methods division and a member the Board of Governors of the IEEE Education Society. He was the 2002–2006 President of Tau Beta Pi.

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Russell Andrew Long Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Russell Long is Director of Project Assessment at the Purdue University School of Engineering Education. He has extensive experience in assessment and student services in higher education and has worked for eight years as the Data Steward of the MIDFIELD project.

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Planning Grant: Developing a National Higher Education Student Unit Record DatabaseRetention is the dominant metric in studying student success in engineering education and highereducation in general, yet national datasets do not facilitate establishing national retentionbenchmarks. A national, longitudinal, student unit-record database would make it possible tocalculate retention and other metrics consistently. This would permit benchmarking, support peercomparisons, and the promote the development of new metrics backed by community support.With input from engineering administrators, engineering education researchers, university datamanagers, and data archivists, this paper describes a planning process to triple the number ofinstitutional partners contributing data to the Multiple-Institution Database for InvestigatingEngineering Longitudinal Development (MIDFIELD), increase the institutional diversity, andnegotiate broader access to the database. The project has developed a plan to release MIDFIELDcommon format data to an archive where researchers and institutional researchers could accessthe data under data use agreements that protect the rights of students and institutions. Thus, thisproject launches a new and sustainable business model for MIDFIELD as a national resource.With broad input from multiple stakeholders, this plan expands a unit-record database with fourdesign principles: 1. data should be accessible to a broader community of researchers, 2. partner institutions must be protected so that they are not affected negatively by published research results, 3. partner institutions should have special access to conduct peer comparisons, and 4. all institutions should have equal access to participate in the MIDFIELD partnership,Based on interviews/focus groups of administrators and data professionals, we propose toaddress all four design principles as follows:  Institutions will receive one-time financial support to extract historical data to level the playing field for institutions who want to participate, but struggle to find the resources;  Project personnel will convert partner institution data into a common format;  Common format data will be placed in a data archive;  Researchers can access common format data under a research data use agreement;  Partner institutions can access common format data for institutional planning and analysis under more restrictive data use agreement.Broader access to MIDFIELD through a data archive will leverage the investment in itsinfrastructure and increase the diversity and pace of research using the database. Expandingaccess to MIDFIELD should result in the development of a research community that shares bestpractices for using this data, leading to methodological advances as well. Research using Addingnew institutional partners will enhance the generalizability of this research. Allowing a largercommunity of researchers to access this resource will result in a dramatic increase in high-qualityresearch, including attracting new talent to the engineering education research agenda.

Ohland, M. W., & Long, R. A. (2014, June), Planning Grant: Developing a National Higher Education Student Unit Record Database Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22917

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