Unlocking the Stories Behind Marshall’s Numbers: A Dive into Data Literacy


In an age where data not only surrounds us but is also used to inform and drive the decisions we make, the ability to understand and interpret this data has never been more vital. This is why we are excited to present “Facts Decoded: Exploring Marshall’s Data,” Marshall University’s first-ever data literacy workshop, brought to you by the Office of Institutional Research.

Our world is shaped by numbers, and within these numbers lie stories waiting to be told, decisions waiting to be made, and innovations waiting to be sparked. Whether you are knee-deep in data analytics or new to the concept altogether, this workshop with a Q&A session will provide an opportunity to unlock the potential within our data and have your burning questions regarding data answered.

Data literacy is the compass by which we navigate information that defines our student headcount, budget, faculty/staff ratios, etc. It is essential because it empowers individuals to critically analyze, interpret, and utilize data in making informed decisions, solving problems, and crafting innovative solutions. In an era where data influences everything from daily operations to strategic planning, being fluent in the language of data not only enhances personal proficiencies but also fosters a culture of transparency, efficiency, and evidence-based decision-making. In higher education in particular, nurturing data literacy means equipping faculty, staff, and students with the skills to transform raw data into actionable insights, thereby enriching the educational experience and driving institutional success. Adding a focus on data literacy to our collective toolkit is not just about understanding numbers, but it is about unlocking the full potential of our community to innovate, lead, and excel in an increasingly data-driven world.

What to Expect

The agenda for the workshop contains explorations of various data sources designed to elevate our understanding of the university’s data:

  • Institutional Data Exploration: We will start with an overview of the institutional data available at Marshall, focusing on our existing dashboards. You will learn how to navigate these resources, use data slicers for customized insights, and understand the importance of alignment with our reported IPEDs numbers.
  • Demystifying IPEDs: A walkthrough of the IPEDs website will demonstrate how to find data on Marshall, compare our numbers to other universities, and understand the differences between different data sources (ie, defintions, meanings). This segment aims to clarify why numbers may differ from tool to tool and the impact of these differences.
  • State and National Data Comparisons: We will also review data that is available through WVHEPC and College Scorecard, providing a broader context of how our institution fits within the larger educational landscape.
  • Deep Dives into Specific Data Areas: Enrollment, FTE (full-time equivalency), retention rates, and graduation rates will be discussed in detail to define how we arrive at the numbers we report. We will explore the methodologies behind these calculations and the implications they hold for understanding Marshall’s performance, benchmarking, and strategic planning.
  • Hands-On Data: Attendees will be guided on where to find, download, and interact with data. We will explore a virtual treasure trove of data resources ranging from Marshall’s publicly accessible Institutional Dashboards to the secured dashboards/lists within MU BERT, as well as the extensive publicly available datasets from College Scorecard and the NCES IPEDs Data Center. Our aim is to whet your palate so that you can delve into these repositories to satisfy your thirst for data knowledge and harness valuable insights for your role at Marshall.
  • Q&A and Collaboration: The session will conclude with an interactive Q&A session. This is your opportunity to ask questions, seek advice, and propose ideas for data projects or analyses that could benefit you, your department, or the university as a whole.

Why It Matters

This workshop is not just about learning to read numbers, but it is about empowering you with the tools to uncover insights, make informed decisions, and contribute to a culture of evidence-based planning and innovation at Marshall. It offers a transparent window into the thorough processes at Marshall University, providing an opportunity to build confidence and trust in the integrity of what our office publishes, which serves as the basis of our institution’s decision-making and strategic direction. By understanding the data that shapes our institution, we can all play a part in steering its future towards greater success.

We are not just aiming to illuminate paths and inform strategies, but instead inspiring a movement of data-informed innovation. So, whether you are looking to enhance your data literacy, interested in the stories our data tells, or simply curious about the world of analytics, this session is for you.

Let’s transform data into knowledge, together.

Brian M. Morgan
Chief Data Officer, Marshall University

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