Academic Metrics 360: Numbers into Knowledge


Plato once quoted Socrates as saying, “A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.”

Effective administrators increasingly need to make decisions rooted in a clear understanding of facts on the ground, data as diverse and dynamic as the student body itself.

IU’s record-keeping systems are robust, but data in raw form is useless to administrators. The Decision Support Initiative (DSI) and Academic Metrics 360 (AM360) exist to bridge that gap.

AM360 provides a 360-degree view into the health of the academic responsibility center to inform the provost, deans, department chairs and campus administration through a series of dashboards, with an all-funds view to key departmental data. The project turns IU’s vast stores of financial records, credit hour, student major, and other student data into useful information, delivered in real time.

AM360 is the platform where the data meet decision makers -- where the numbers turn into knowledge. Luckily, administrators don’t need to be data scientists to benefit, thanks to AM360’s dashboard and visualizations.

“The best part,” said Vice Provost for Strategic Initiatives at IU Bloomington M. A. Venkataramanan (Venkat), “is its transparency, accuracy, and ease of use.” He recounted that an administrator told him she’d lost sleep the first night after accessing AM360 because she couldn’t stop playing with the platform.

“This allows everybody in the decision-making chain, from a department chair to Provost, to look at the same data with the same understanding,” he said. When decision makers can easily connect to a user-friendly, informative view, better decisions naturally follow.

“AM360 has allowed us to look at credit hours in a new way, starting this fall term,” said Aimee Heeter, Associate Vice Provost and Director of Budgetary Administration and Planning. “Schools can actually see what their credit hours are, based on their majors and non-majors.”

This has specifically helped the College of Arts and Sciences, which has seen a shift in its student population, Venkat said.

“Visually, the dean and department chairs are able to see right now about 60 percent of their credit hours on the undergraduate level comes from non-majors,” he said. “When they realized it, they were able to come up with innovative programs aimed at non-majors in the form of minors and certificates. We are already seeing an uptick in their finances and credit hours.”