Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation in Practice

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Higher Education

First Advisor

D-L Stewart

Second Advisor

Bobbie Kite

Third Advisor

Laura Sponsler


Data use, Higher education, Leadership decision-making, Organizational culture, Program evaluation, Student experience


The purpose of this program evaluation was to better understand the department-level leadership’s decision-making process and, within that process, when data are used to inform decisions related to the school’s mission to deliver an exceptional student experience. The evaluation took place at a school of professional and continuing education at a private institution in the Mountain West region. This evaluation’s central focus was to learn what the assumptions were that informed how the leadership prioritized data related to the student experience in their decision-making process. Secondarily, the evaluation explored what organizational conditions would be necessary for unused student-generated qualitative data to be considered relevant in the decision-making process about issues related to the student experience. Rooted in a constructivist methodology, this process evaluation used dialectic methods to gather data through one-on-one interviews and small group feedback sessions. During three group sessions, the leadership team collaboratively developed a logic model for incorporating currently unused qualitative student-generated data to address a need identified by the group. The findings indicated strengths within the Dean Team related to trust, culture, and data use, which aided the five members in being adaptive and nimble in using data in their decision-making process. The findings also indicated there were assumptions related to the prioritization of data, which likely impacted overall adoption and use of data among broader teams under each dean’s leadership. To better understand the implications of trust, culture change, and data use within this higher education organizational environment, three models were analyzed. A synthesis of the data findings and learnings from the three models were applied to create the Implementation Considerations Map, which is a useable, data-informed framework to help this school’s leadership consider key aspects of trust-building, culture change, data use, and assessment protocols when rolling out new initiatives. This program evaluation highlighted the complexity of genuinely adopting a culture of data as well as the critical importance of the organizational culture guiding the approach to data. Finally, this evaluation made clear how the assumptions made about the data culture and the perceived adoption of data systems and processes have broad-sweeping effects.

Copyright Date


Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

All Rights Reserved
All Rights Reserved.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Cindy Cragg


Received from ProQuest

File Format



English (eng)


197 pgs

File Size

2.5 MB


Adult education

Available for download on Thursday, September 12, 2024