Academic Year (AY) – Follows a Fall, Spring, Summer semester format.

Accreditation data – data that are gathered for the purposes of complying with the requirements of the institution and/or programmatic accrediting agencies.

Admissions data – data collected during the admissions process.

Ad hoc data or ad hoc data request – work that is generally done just one time or infrequently.  This is normally data collected “on the fly” to answer an immediate request for information.

AIR – Association for Institutional Research

Annualized enrollment – Unique enrollment over a period of one year.

Anomaly – A data point that looks like it is not correct.  It may in fact be correct, but it requires further examination in order to determine if it should be retained in the database or if it is an error.

At-Risk Degrees – Determination of “At-Risk” based on a student having Pell eligibility status during the Fiscal Year of Completion (at the time the degree was awarded).

Attempted Hours - Ahe total number of hours attempted by the student in a given semester; adjusted to account for de-registration from any course after the 100% refund period, or for the addition of classes after the beginning of the semester.

  • Example 1: Student registers for 15 credit hours, but drops one 3-credit hour course during the 100% refund period. Attempted hours are adjusted to 12 credit hours for the semester.
  • Example 2: Student begins the semester enrolled in 15 credit hours, but later enrolls in an 8-week class for the second half of the semester. Attempted hours are adjusted to 18 credit hours for the semester.


Baseline Data – data that are used to represent the state of the community college before selected activities or events took place.  This is used as a pre-event state of the community college, such as before a given intervention or strategy was put in place.

Benchmark Data – a data point or a data element for which there are comparable national, state, or regional sources.  It becomes a performance target.

Business Intelligence – a set of technologies, tools, applications and practices employed to collect, integrate, and present business information for the improvement of decision making.


Carl Perkins data – data that are collected in order to produce the required measures for the Carl Perkins Act.

Census date – the date when certain data are pulled from the master file and often used for an official reason, such as the opening fall enrollment.  (Official enrollment date is October 15th.)

CIP code – A six digit code in the form xx.xxxx that identifies instructional program specialties within educational institutions; a federal classification scheme that is used to identify higher education programs or majors.  CIP stands for Classification of Instructional Programs and is often used to tie individual courses to a select major, as well as to indicate majors of individual students.

Clock Hour – See Contact Hour

Cohort – Group of students identified for further study that meet selected criteria; may be by semester, by Academic Year or by Fiscal Year.

Common Data Set – A set of consistent elements and definitions that was developed in order to fulfill the requirement of requests from the College Board, Pearson’s and U.S. News and World Report, The use of the CDS has expanded over time.

Completed Hours - the cumulative completed credit hours at the end of the semester for which a student received a grade.

Completions - All degrees awarded between July 1 - June 30 in each reporting year; typically follows the August, December, and May commencement cycle.  NOTE:  FY2012-2013 reported August, December, May, and August to re-align to an “Academic Year” cycle rather than a “Fiscal Year” cycle.  Future reporting will follow an “Academic Year” cycle and report based on a December, May, and August commencement cycle.

Constant – the type of information that is consistent throughout the database such as term or year if the database is for one term or year only.  True to their name, constants will not change.  Constants will not be coded multiple ways: “Fall 2009” coded 0909 will remain 0909 throughout the database.

Credit Data – Instructional activity, generally measured in student credit hours (SCH) that can be applied towards degree completion requirements.

Contact Hour – A unit of measure that represents an hour of scheduled instruction given to students.  Also referred to as a clock hour.

Continuing students:  Students who were enrolled the previous semester (not including summer).

Course Campus Code:  The campus where a course is offered in a semester.

Credit Hours – A unit of measure representing the equivalent of an hour (50 minutes) of instruction per week over the entire term.  It is applied toward the total number of credit hours needed for completing the requirements of a degree, diploma, certificate, or other formal award.


Data vs. Information – Data refers to a set of numbers, processes, or comments that represent the actions of persons within an organizational context.  Data represents the lowest level of knowledge – facts without an inter-relational context.  Information refers to the result of the analysis of data into a more meaningful context.

Data Access – the amount of information made available to an individual based on their need to know and the ability to conduct their transactions.

Data Confidentiality – the tendency of an individual to declare some or all of their information is not to be shared or reported with the general student population.  Data confidentiality also refers to the institutional procedures or protocol that restricts the volume or amount of information that can be made available to the campus community.

Data Dictionary – a listing of the elements contained in a given database, their definitions (including the values associated with that element) and often, the uses for that element.

Data Ownership – refers to the responsibility for collecting data, entering data into the transactional data system, and maintaining the security and integrity of the data.

Data Security – the ability of an institution/organization to protect its information from unauthorized individuals or computer networks.

Data Subset – A section of a database that is associated with a selected group of students.  Often this selected group is based upon the students meeting certain criteria, such as ethnicity, entrance date or financial aid received.

Data Warehouse – A collection of data designed to support decision making; A data structure that is optimized for distribution. It collects and stores integrated sets of historical data from multiple operational systems that serve as the single integrated source of data for processing information.

Degree-seeking – either the student or the community college has declared that the student is seeking a given degree or is on the path to seek a degree.

Directory Information – Based upon FERPA, the following has been designated as directory information for a school district.  For example: student’s name, address, telephone and email address.

Dual Credit Student – A student still enrolled in high school.  For state metrics reporting, dual credit refers any high school student taking college-level courses; Early College, Project EXCEL, Project Link, or a student taking a course on the Vincennes Campus or Jasper Campus.


Earned hours – the sum of the hours in the courses in which the student earned at least a D at the end of the semester.

Element – a variable or constant that is equivalent to one piece of data contained within a database.

Enrolled – those persons formally considered by the college to be attending a given course.  This is often dependent upon whether fees associated with the course have been paid.

Enrolled Any Major – Student enrolled in any major, inclusive of major for which he/she applied

Enrolled Hours - the total number of hours the student is still enrolled in at any time during the semester, excluding any courses from which a student was de-registered during the 100% refund period. 

  • Example 1: Student registers for 15 credit hours, but withdraws from one 3-credit hour course at the beginning of Week 3 of classes. “Enrolled” hours are adjusted to 12 credit hours; however, “Attempted” hours remain at 15 credit hours.

Enrolled Other Major – Student enrolled in a major other than the major in which he/she applied.

Extraction – the process of pulling data from the master file, or some other file, and putting those data into a different file.  The process may result in a smaller file or a copy of the master file at a given point in time.


Field - a component that holds a single element or characteristic.  Every field or column in a database table represents a single element of the table.  A field will contain only one piece of data.

First-time Freshmen:  Students with no prior college-level work beyond high school.

First-time Transfers:  Students who have attended another college (post-high school).

Fiscal Year (FY) – Begins July 1 of a given year and ends June 30 of the following year.

Flat Files - this type of file usually represents records in rows and elements in columns with each element in the same place for each record (a table).  This is a compact file management system, which does not require a lot of space for each record.

Formatting – the process of adding information to the output of a data run, or changing a variable so that the output is better able to stand alone.  For example, a community college may be numbered in the dataset, but that number will be reformatted so that the actual name will show up on a report.

Freeze or lock file – the term used to describe the process of extracting a file at one, single given time and not allowing for any changes once the file has been set.  This is often used to capture the situation as of the census date, or the end of a term or semester.

Frequency Distribution – A frequency distribution shows a summarized grouping of data.

Full-time – this refers to the number of attempted hours in which the student has enrolled.  Usually if attempted hours are equal to 12 or more, the student is considered full-time for that semester or term.

  • FTE – Full Time Equivalent – This is an artificial construct usually based upon hours generated.  Total student credit hours divided by the number of hours your institution requires for a student to be considered full-time;
  • FTE Enrollment is calculated by taking the sum of attempted hours divided by 15 for full-time students (12 or more credit hours) and adding it to the sum of attempted hours divided by 15 for part-time students (fewer than 12 credit hours).  This methodology follows the process employed for calculating FTE for the SERYR001 Reports, which are used to complete the Daily Enrollment Reports.
  • FTE alternative methodology used is some circumstances is full-time plus part-time divided by 3.


Gateway Course – A “gateway” course is an entry, college-level, non-remedial (credit as the first college-level course taken by a student, usually a “100-level” class.  Gateway courses at Vincennes University identified and used for the “Remediation Success” Metric reporting include the following courses:  ENGL 101, ENGL 112, MATH 101, MATH 102, MATT 103, MATT 105, MATT 107, MATT 108, and MATT 109.

GPA-Grade Point Average – the grade points earned divided by the grade point hours earned.  This is often associated with credit classes.

Graduation Rates:

Normal Time to Completion (100%):  IPEDS has adopted the definition developed by the Joint Commission on Accountability Reporting (JCAR) as a definition of normal time.  Normal time is defined as "the amount of time necessary for a student to complete all requirements for a degree or certificate according to the institution's catalog. This is typically 4 years (8 semesters or trimesters, or 12 quarters, excluding summer terms) for a bachelor's degree in a standard term-based institution; 2 years (4 semesters or trimesters, or 6 quarters, excluding summer terms) for an associate's degree in a standard term-based institution; and the various scheduled times for certificate programs."  Certificates at Vincennes University are calculated as follows:  2 years (4 semesters) for a Certificate of Graduation and 1 year (2 semesters) for a Certificate of Program Completion.

NOTE:  Technical Amendments that redefine the cohort year now allow an institution to count completers through August 31 of the summer following the sixth year of a 4-year program (or the third year for 2-year programs).

SOURCE:  IPEDS Glossary and GRS Instructions

Degrees awarded beyond "Normal Time to Completion" follow the same methodology described above with completion times adjusted accordingly:

  • Graduated within 150% of Normal Time to Completion

Examples:  Bachelor’s degree = 6 years (12 semesters) or Associate’s degree = 3 years (6 semesters)

  • Graduated within 200% of Normal Time to Completion

Examples:  Bachelor’s degree = 8 years (16 semesters) or Associate’s degree = 4 years (8 semesters)

  • Graduated > 200% of Normal Time to Completion 

Examples:  Bachelor's degree > 8 years or Associate's degree > 4 years 


High School Student – A student still enrolled in high school.  For state metrics reporting, dual credit refers any high school student taking college-level courses; Early College, Project EXCEL, Project Link, or a student taking a course on the Vincennes Campus or Jasper Campus.


Incoming Students:  First-time Freshman + First-time Transfer + Reapplies

Intranet – an intranet is a private internet that is accessible only to community college faculty, staff, and administrators.  An intranet is a perfect place to house data that can be shared by college personnel.

IRB-Institutional Review Board – also known as an independent ethics committee or ethical review board, IRBs establish policies for the way research is conducted at an individual institution.  IRB policies ensure that people’s rights are protected and that they are not harmed by the research project.  While most IR is outside the IRB realm, it is very important to make sure of what your college’s policy is and what sources of funds are being used to do the research.  IRBs are governed by Title 45 of the Code of Federal Regulations.  More information is available from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, here:

IPEDS – Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System


Key data – the element or combination of data elements that are used to uniquely identify the record within the database.

Key field – the most important data field in a student unit record which identifies a student by a unique series of numbers, also known as a student ID.  (aka: Unique Identifier)


Live files – databases that are updated on a continual basis and represent the situation as it is today.


Management by Fact – a technique that demonstrates that decisions, policy interpretation or other organizational activities are implemented because of the use of data to determine available options.

Master File – The main file from which data subsets are extracted.  This file is often kept in real time and is considered the official record of what is happening at this moment.  Snapshot files are pulled from this file to represent what was happening on a selected date, such as the census date.

Merge – the process of bringing together two sets of data based upon a common key.

Missing Data – data that are not recorded in the database for a given variable.  An example would be if the gender of a student was not recorded.


Non-Credit Data – data that come from all kinds of different sources but rarely from the college’s transactional data system.  Coursework contained in this type of data does not apply toward a recognized award.

Non-Electronic Data – data in narrative or paper form.

Non-Resident Student – A student who is not a resident of the State of Indiana.

Normal Time to Completion – (see Graduation Rates)


Official data – data that are required to be reported to funding entities, usually as of a certain set of dates.  They may or may not be updated later.

On-Time Graduation Rate Metric - Completions (State Definition) – The rate of graduation within two (2) years for Associate’s degree-seekers or 4 years for Bachelor’s degree-seekers for cohorts of students who enroll as resident, first-time, full-time enrolled students in the fall of a given year. Residency status is based on residency at the time of fall enrollment.  NOTE:  This metric follows a “fall” cohort and uses an academic (AY) rather than a fiscal year (FY) format.

Other Students (not Incoming or Continuing):  Project Excel and non-Project Excel High School students + Undeclared + Transient students

Outliers – a data point that is outside the usual range of a variable.  These points may be accurate but should be reviewed.

Overall Degree Completion Metric (State Definition) – Count of degrees conferred to resident students in a given fiscal year (July 1 – June 30).  Residency is based on residency status at the time of degree conferral.  For Vincennes University, degrees conferred should be counted in the Certificate (30 or more credit hours), Associate, and Bachelor’s degree categories.


Part-time – this usually refers to the number of hours attempted.  Anything less than 12 credit hours is considered part-time.

Passing Grade – Determined by the final grade reported in AS_Academic_History_Detail, where “D or higher” is passing.

Persistence – tracking of student enrollment, usually measured semester to semester (fall to spring to fall…), through completion of program (graduation).

Persistence Thresholds – Thresholds measuring progression through a program as described below.

                15-hour threshold – where earned hours ≥ 15 but ≤ 29 in a given semester

                30-hour threshold – where earned hours ≥ 30 but ≤ 44 in a given semester

                45-hour threshold – where earned hours ≥ 45 in a given semester


Qualitative research – Often considered the opposite of quantitative research, qualitative research is more people-based and includes data collection approaches like focus groups and interviews.  Quantitative research is excellent for helping to better understand what has happened, while qualitative research pursues the answer to why questions.

Quantitative research – Research that involves the use of numerical data; often contrasted with qualitative research.


Raw data – data that has not been processed for a specific use.

Re-applies:  Students who attended VU following high school, but stopped out for one or more semesters before re-enrolling.

Recoding – the process of redoing the  values in another set, For example, if one data set has males as 1 and females as  2, and another data set has males as 2 and females s 1, one of the data sets must be recoded prior to merging, so that the gender variable will be coded consistently.

Relational Data Base – a database is organized around a set of tables, each of which contains elements and the key element.  Receiving data in this format allows the user to access many different elements without having to expand or re-do a flat file.

Remedial Courses – For Vincennes University, remedial courses identified from FY2007 – FY2013 for the “Remediation Success” Metric reporting include the following:  ENGL 009, ENGL 011, MATH 009, MATH 010, MATH 011, MATH 012, MATH 013, MATH 016, and MATT 014.

Remediation Success Incentive Metric (State Definition) – The percentage of students entering a two-year institution as resident, first-time, degree-seeking undergraduate students requiring remediation who successfully complete an English/Language Arts, Math, or English/Language Arts and Math gateway courses(s) within two years of first-time entry.  Residency status is based on residency at the time of entry into the institution.  Enrollment and subsequent remediation is based on fiscal year (July – June).

Residency Status – Determined using RESD_CODE = “R” from AS_Student_Registration_Detail view extract files.

Resident Student – A student who is a resident of the State of Indiana.


Scheduled Compliance – those data that are collected for a set of specifically known questions, or categories of data, that define an institution within the external reporting guidelines used for the inquiry.  Scheduled compliance reporting has timelines and set collection and reporting due dates.

SDE – Student Demographic and Enrollment Report

State File Submissions – mandated data submissions which are either uploaded to a secure FTP (File Transfer Protocol) site in a specific format or entered directly to a secure website.  They are generally for the purpose of funding and accountability.

Stopouts – Students who leave school without completing a degree or certificate in successive semesters; may or my not return at a later date.

Student – a person officially attending the college and enrolled in a recognized course or receiving other services.  One who is enrolled or attends classes at a school, college, or university.

Student Campus Code:  Generally determined by the campus where the majority of an enrolled student’s courses were taken in a semester, or where the majority of credits have been earned.

Student Type – Determined using STYP_CODE

Student Unit Record – all of the information associated with a single student, linked across the institution by student ID or key field.


Transactional Data – files containing numerous field and descriptions about a student, his or her relationship to the college, financial information, and other information that makes up the student unit record.  Large data systems like SCT Banner, PeopleSoft, and Datatel record institutional business transactions (such as when a student registers for a class or pays tuition and fees) that are added to the data system as they happen.

Transactional Data System – The database that holds the transactional data.  This database is live, and constantly changing.

Transient students:  Visiting students, taking one or more classes at VU, but enrolled at another university.


Unique Identifier – Key Field/Student ID

Undeclared students:  Students taking classes at VU, who are not planning to pursue a degree; non-degree seeking students.

Unofficial data – data that can be corrected and updated, and is thus more accurate than official data.


Variable – a non-uniform characteristic of an observational unit.


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