June 14, 2019
The UNM-Gallup Environmental Scan was completed and released this past semester and is available for viewing. This results of this very important research project, as led by Sr. Institutional Researcher Brittany Babycos, will form a foundation for data-driven management decisions within our local higher education enterprise. I am including the introductory part of the document in this weekly brief so readers can understand the process used to obtain this data and be aware of the depth and breadth of the information which was collected. With this business intelligence at our fingertips, we can move forward in a strategic manner to design programs and services that meet the needs of our students and our community, both now and in the future.
Environmental scanning is the process of analyzing financial, sociological, demographic, economic, workforce, technological, and other trends that may impact the mission and vision of an organization (Knutzen, 2000). The goal of an environmental scan is to produce information that is relevant to an organization for the purpose of forecasting changes in the external environment that may impact that organization. In addition to providing key information to UNM-Gallup administration, faculty, and staff for institutional decision-making, UNM-Gallup hopes that local stakeholders will find the environmental scanning project useful within their own organizations.
Under the direction of UNM-Gallup’s Chief Executive Officer, UNM-Gallup’s Sr. Institutional Researcher was asked to conduct an environmental scan. An outline of environmental scanning procedures was developed using Judi Knutzen’s “Focus on the Future: Environmental Scanning at Columbia Basin College” (2000) as guidance. This publication was selected due to the clear, simple, yet inclusive nature of the core project components. This project included the following primary components: Core Trends, Areas of Interest, Trends and Events as Seen by Community Leaders (from interviews and focus groups), and Advisory Committees (Knutzen, 2000). To fit UNM-Gallup’s current needs, the Advisory Committee section was removed and a custom exploratory survey was added.
The interest area data collection process involved multiple phases. First, all UNM-Gallup employees and students were invited by email to participate in the interest area section of the environmental scan. Upon agreeing to voluntarily participate, two groups of approximately ten UNM-Gallup employees attended an orientation session facilitated by UNM-Gallup’s Sr. Institutional Researcher. Orientation sessions included an overview of the environmental scanning process as well as instructions on how to participate in the interest areas. After successful completion of orientation, participants who wished to continue were provided with multiple resources located in UNM-Gallup’s Microsoft Planner application. Participants were instructed to select one or more interest areas to provide information. Topics for interest areas included the following: Educational Partners, State and Federal Mandates, Economic Development, Local Demographics, Community Literacy, Educational Costs, Workforce Training and Retraining, Unemployment, Technology, Postsecondary Funding, and Cultural Considerations. Participants were given approximately 5 weeks to contribute information.
After the deadline for submission, the Sr. Institutional Researcher reviewed the information and categorized it as “internal” or “external”. External information was relevant for the environment scan whereas internal information was more specific to UNM-Gallup policies or procedures. Internal information was placed aside for later distribution to UNM-Gallup administration. Sections were collapsed, moved, deleted, or re-named as appropriate (refer to the “Interest Areas” section of this document). Additional information was incorporated by the Sr. Institutional Researcher where appropriate (when little or no information was presented).
Several community stakeholders were identified and sent an email requesting participation in the project. Emails with no response were followed-up with a phone call. Ten individuals were identified for interviews and seven accepted. Interviews were conducted in person or by telephone by the Sr. Institutional Researcher (6) and the Sr. Public Relations Specialist (1) after an informed consent process took place. Interviews were semi-structured and averaged approximately one hour in length. Interviews were audio-recorded and later transcribed using Trint transcription software. Data for all interviews and focus groups were compiled for theme identification. Comments that were mentioned by at least two individuals were retained in the “Interview and Focus Group Summary” of this report. See Appendix A for interview and focus group scripts. A copy of the consent form given to personal interview participants is available upon request.
All UNM-Gallup employees and students were invited by email to voluntarily participate in a focus group. Based on response, two focus groups were formed that were composed of UNM-Gallup faculty and staff. After the informed consent process, focus group participants were posed a series of open-ended questions. Each focus group session lasted between one and two hours. Participants were provided with light refreshments during the focus group sessions. Although participation in a focus group was not confidential, participants were asked to keep the identity of other individuals private. Sessions were audio recorded and later transcribed using Trint transcription software. Data collected during focus group sessions were combined with interview data. Comments that were made two or more times during interviews or focus groups were retained in the “Interview and Focus Group Summary” section of this report. For interview and focus group scripts, see Appendix A. A copy of the consent form distributed to focus groups participants is available upon request.
After consulting with UNM-Gallup’s Chief Executive Officer regarding critical questions, an exploratory survey was constructed to be administered via SurveyMonkey. Survey questions were customized based on self-identification (i.e. UNM-Gallup student, local business owner, etc.) in order to maximize the amount of information gathered. Refer to Appendix B for the list of survey questions. Once ready for distribution, a link to the survey was put on UNM-Gallup’s main webpage and shared via UNM-Gallup’s Facebook page. Multiple emails were sent to UNM-Gallup affiliates and various community groups encouraging participation. In addition, computers were set up in UNM-Gallup’s Gurley Hall commons area to enable easy access to students. A tablet was also taken around the UNM-Gallup campus for students to participate. Last, students studying or receiving tutoring services in UNM-Gallup Center for Academic Learning (CAL) were asked to participate in the survey. Students who participated in the survey on campus (after being verbally asked) were given a UNM-Gallup lip balm and/ or a UNM-Gallup pen for their time. The survey was active for approximately 5 months.
Generally speaking, survey responses were anonymous. However, participants did have the option of providing their names for follow-up information regarding UNM-Gallup or the environmental scanning project. In the event that a survey participant asked for more information regarding UNM-Gallup, the participant’s contact information was given to UNM-Gallup’s Sr. Public Relations Specialist. Several students also provided their names for the purpose of extra credit. In the event that names were needed for follow-up or extra credit purposes, the Sr. Institutional Researcher removed all responses and forwarded names and/ or contact information to the appropriate person.
Once the survey closed, responses were exported from SurveyMonkey and coded using SPSS software. Descriptive statistics were conducted for all survey variables and multiple figures were created. Open-ended responses involving new program recommendations were retained, sorted, and categorized for use with labor projections (see “New Program Recommendations” in the Methodology and Interest Group sections). Due to the exploratory nature of this project, no further statistical analyses were performed with survey data for the purpose of this report.
New Program Recommendations
All focus group, personal interview, and survey participants were asked what new programs were needed at UNM-Gallup. Qualitative data from these sources were collected and sorted. After sorting into groups, suggestions that were very similar were combined for analysis. New program suggestions were then aligned with 2016-2026 national, state, and local projection data from the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions (www.jobs.state.nm.us) and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). A scoring matrix (see Appendix C) was created to help quantify the need for each new program suggestion based on projected growth and supply/ demand. Greater emphasis was placed on local and state projections. This data was then used to create a stacked bar chart to assist with data interpretation and produce an overall score (ranging from 0 to 10). A score of 10 would indicate a greater projected need for a program than a score of zero.
Determining financial, sociological/ demographic, economic and workforce, and technology core trends was the final step in data analysis. All data and information was considered in each of the respective areas when extracting core trends. Core trends may include a combination of local, state, national, and global data due to the pervasive nature of core trends. In their final form, core trends were those that have the most potential to impact UNM-Gallup or that have the potential to impact UNM-Gallup in a major way.