Scott Furtwengler is the Director of Institutional Research at Brazosport College in Texas, USA. He is also an affiliate researcher with the Urban Talent Research Institute at the University of Houston, where he earned a PhD in Educational Psychology. He is particularly interested in the role that achievement motivation, including beliefs, goal orientation, and attribution, plays in learning and performance. He is also a member of Piirus and we’re delighted that he found the time for our interview!
What does your role as the Director for Institutional Research at Brazosport College involve?
I support the college’s mission by leading and conducting innovative research; collecting, producing, and disseminating quality data; producing reports and conducting presentations for stakeholders, compliance agents, and accreditation; and supporting student success initiatives.
What is your favourite part of your role?
My favourite part of institutional research is conducting analyses that involve inferential rather than descriptive statistics. By doing so we can better estimate the effects of a particular intervention on academic performance, retention, and completion.
What is the most challenging part of your role?
The most challenging part of my role is ensuring that we are collecting quality data for the agencies to which we report. Isolating the signal in noise can be time consuming.
How important are building relationships to your role? Do you find this is becoming increasingly important in the research funding landscape?
Building strong and trusting relationships is absolutely critical to my role. I depend on others for particular data sets. Sometimes there are obstacles to collecting data and we have to communicate openly and trust each other. The type of research I currently conduct does not require funding, so funding is not an issue for me. I do have colleagues, however, who have experienced greater competition for fewer resources in the grant-funding process. It’s my understanding that this has deterred many researchers from carrying out their projects.
When you’re not working, how do you like to spend your time?
When I’m not working I write and perform music. I also enjoy going to concerts. In my former life my background was in literature and film, so I still enjoy reading fiction and watching a good film. My wife and I love discovering new food and restaurants, especially when we travel.
Many thanks, Scott Furtwengler! You can find out much more about Scott Furtwengler and his research online: in the hopes of finding others with whom he can collaborate, and to disseminate his research, Scott actively uses social networking sites such as Academia, Twitter and LinkedIn. More recently he joined Piirus. You can follow him on Twitter
Image credits: Brazosport College