Director, Office of Undergraduate Advising
College of Environmental Design
How many years have you been at Berkeley?
Almost 25! I started in the College of Letters and Science in August 1992 and moved to CED in 2009.
How long have you been using Cal Answers?
I began with Cal Profiles and switched over to Cal Answers as soon as it was available.
Which subject areas within Cal Answers do you use?
I primarily use Student Demographics and Outcomes and Student Financials because they are the most relevant to my job. From time to time I use the Academic Planning, Student Curriculum, and Student Applicants data.
How (and when) do you use them?
In the College of Environmental Design, we track our demographics and financials on an on- going basis so that we can understand the unique nature of our students and their needs. The reports we create are reviewed by faculty and deans and are used by advisers and faculty alike to improve the student experience in CED. For example, understanding our students’ socio- economic background spurred us to create a fee waiver program and to be more proactive about sharing financial aid resources and teaching financial literacy. Discovering that CED has the highest percentage of international students of all the undergrad colleges has us thinking about how we might collaborate with campus partners to enhance the experience of these members of our CED community.
What questions do you use Cal Answers to answer?
What does our student body look like in terms of admit type, ethnicity, percentage of international students, socio-economic status, etc., and how might these demographics shape the strengths and needs of our students? How might we best tailor our advising model to fit our unique student body? What are our enrollment trends over time and how do we compare to other colleges and the campus as a whole? With the academic planning data now available, we are beginning to use Cal Answers to predict course enrollment, which is a big help to our academic departments.
What is your favorite Cal Answers dashboard(s)? S
tudent Demographics and Outcomes – Census
What is your favorite Cal Answers metric(s)?
Anything that helps us understand our Student Body better.
Do you have a Cal Answers success story to share?
I love the term “data activism” and see so much potential in Cal Answers to help us improve the student experience at Cal. See http://advisingmatters.berkeley.edu/data-activism for a story about how we created a fee waiver program for our students. We then used Cal Answers data to support our application for an Equity & Inclusion grant to create a Student Materials Store in CED. See http://diversity.berkeley.edu/2013-2014innovationgrantsprojects and http://ced.berkeley.edu/resources/materials-store. Data was pivotal in making our case!
What advice do you have for anyone new to Cal Answers?
You don’t need to be a data geek to successfully use Cal Answers. I am definitely not a statistics genius by any stretch of the imagination but the system is intuitive and easy to use – if I can use it, so can you! Once you’ve used a particular dashboard a couple of times, it will get easier and you will soon be a pro.
You might think that Cal Answers is all about number crunching but from my perspective, it is really about what matters to us most – our students! Using this tool to best understand and support our students is what gets me most excited and curious. It’s also important to remember that data is just one piece of the assessment puzzle. You can use Cal Answers data as a starting point for more qualitative modes of assessment. For example you can present some data to students and ask: “This is what the data suggests. Does this match your experience? What else do we need to know?” Lastly, the Cal Answers tutorial videos are fantastic and really make it easy to understand and use the dashboards – I learned a lot from each one!
Who on campus do you think would benefit from Cal Answers?
- Anyone interested in improving the experience for Cal students.
- Anyone interested in using data to improve processes and policies.
- Those interested in being proactive about accommodating student demand on courses and majors.