The EAB Academic Performance Solutions (APS) Platform

NIU has partnered with EAB to implement a platform, Academic Performance Solutions (APS). APS is a data analytics tool that brings our institution’s student, HR and finance data into a single platform that generates structured reports and peer benchmarks that can be used to support metrics for our university goals. We partnered with APS because we lacked access to this type of data, which caused us to lose time, dollars, and other resources. APS is part of a wider effort to ensure that you have the data you need to make an informed decision. Tableau is another important piece of that effort.

We will use APS to build a data-informed culture. The data will inform decisions but will never tell us the right or wrong answer is. We will begin using APS data for course planning, which will place everyone on equal footing to start the conversation, save you time in searching for and thinking about what kind of information to include and help us identify needs across the institution.

Using APS Data at a Campus-Wide Scope

Academic leaders are responsible for making critical resource decisions, such as faculty hiring, course planning and driving impactful change on campus. Yet, often lack the right or sufficient information to support decisions, balance a breadth of responsibilities (administrative, teaching, research, community engagement, etc.), and make decisions that support the success of your unit, college and NIU.

Putting Data Directly into the Hands of Leaders

Our goals in putting data directly into your hands are to:

  • Minimize burden and improve efficiency: Ease of availability of data and consistent methodology reduces the time for manual data collection and analysis.
  • Make once-difficult conversations easier: Access to the same data puts all academic leaders on the same ground, which places all conversations at the same starting point.
  • Open the “Black Box” of decision-making: Access to the same data allows everyone to understand what kind of information is used to inform decisions.
  • Illuminate current resource use and opportunities: Comprehensive data helps leaders understand the state of their department or college, with the ultimate goal of supporting priorities, students and staff.

Access to the APS Tool

Currently, the platform has been made available to deans, associate deans, department chairs and college business managers. In the future, all NIU faculty and staff will have access to the APS tool. 

Access APS

In addition to the APS tool, faculty and staff also have access to other EAB resources. These resources include blog posts, research reports, webinars and training materials that are focused on the APS platform and best practices in higher education. You can set up a free account with EAB. The access to EAB is separate from APS access. 

APS Assistance

If you have trouble accessing the platform or have questions about navigating the platform, please contact Celeste Latham (clatham@niu.edu).

Instructional and Informational Resources

There are several helpful resources available:

Recommended Training Sessions

 These training sessions require logging into EAB:

APS Workshops

Periodically EAB staff will host workshops on areas of the APS platform. Those workshops will be listed here.

If you or those in your department would like a walk-through of the platform, please contact Celeste Latham at clatham@niu.edu to schedule a one-on-one or group tutorial

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How do I know that the data is “right”?

Data in the APS platform is an aggregated view of our institution’s student, HR and finance data that has undergone data quality tests to ensure a consistent methodology is used. Often, people think data is incorrect when it’s simply measuring something different than what was expected. APS provides a data dictionary so that you can see exactly how the data point was calculated.

Is the data current?

Data in the APS platform is updated each semester and is historical data. It’s intended to give us a historical snapshot of HR, student and financial data. For some purposes (like the number of faculty in a department), term data is appropriate and relevant. For others (how many students have registered for a particular class?), it is not and Tableau is a complementary platform that provides data that is updated more frequently.

As new modules in APS are introduced the data will be updated more frequently to support the analytics of the new module.

What other data sources are available?

APS is one source of data that is particularly relevant for academic affairs. In addition to APS, we will continue to leverage our resources in Institutional Research to provide timely data and reports.

What are some of the ways the data can be used?

In the training sessions, there were several opportunities identified:

  • Monitoring the health of the department.
  • Better identification of those majors that a department is serving (what students outside of those majoring in my discipline are taking classes in my department), increasing collaboration among departments, and aligning course offerings with enrollment demand.
  • Better alignment of course capacity to pedagogy - Course Capacity management.
  • Opportunities to improve the accuracy and understanding of the data inputs from the three source systems (PeopleSoft HR, Financials and Student System).
  • Looking at resource allocations within a department.
  • Reviewing a particular program through Program Analytics.
Is documentation available on how to navigate and interpret APS data?

The Home Page within the Academic Performance Solutions platform has webinars and documentation on how to use and interpret the APS platform.

How do I access the training materials on the EAB website?

Some of the training for APS is on the EAB platform, which is a separate login. You should be able to create an EAB account if you do not have one already. To create an account go to the EAB website and click login. If you do not have an account, click create an account. Once the account is created you should be able to access the training.

Are explanations available on how metrics are calculated?

In the APS Platform, each metric or KPI has an ellipsis (…) at the top of the graph with the mouse hovers over the data. When you click on the ellipsis, a definition of the metric will appear. To obtain additional information, you may have to click on the metrics and filters tab.

How are the APS Benchmarks determined?

The APS Benchmarks are determined by the university based on the participating universities. Northern Illinois University can up to three cohorts at a time and can change them every four months or so.

Why does the data in APS not match that of the Delaware study, IPEDs and other reporting tools?

The APS metrics and benchmarking may vary from other reports because of the timing of the data and how the data is organized. APS can be used to support leadership decisions when looking at both the college, department and program. The data can be used to analyze academic performance, especially when looking at year over year performance and comparing the department against benchmarking cohorts.

What is the source of the data in APS?

The data in APS comes from the university’s three PeopleSoft platforms (HR, Financials and Student). Five years of historical data has been loaded into the platform.

Access APS

APS Updates and New Features

  • Removal of fund 44 from the platform (December 2020).
  • Visit the EAB website to see the latest advancements for APS.

Contact

Office of Executive Vice President and Provost
Altgeld Hall 215
815-753-9400
815-753-0701 (fax)
provost@niu.edu