Frequently Asked Questions

Basic Information

I need research data, where do I begin?

1.       Determine your research question(s) and purpose. What do you want to know and how will I use data to accomplish my research purpose?

2.       Check available data sources on the IRE website under the Available Research Data tab where you will find Madison College, district, county, state and national data resources to meet your needs.

3.       If the research you need is not available on the “Available Research Data” page, then it is possible to build your own data using Cognos if you have completed the Cognos training and have been given permission as an authorized user.

4.       If you have not been trained on Cognos, then you may submit a Work Request to IRE. Please allow at least two weeks for your request to process.


Do we provide HR or Finance data? What type of data is available through IRE?

IRE provides student data, such as retention, persistence and enrollment trends, as well as FERPA approved contact lists as requested. For HR or Finance data, you would need to contact those departments for requests.

What is benchmarking?

Benchmarks are standards and objectives used to measure institutional effectiveness. Some of these measures are used to measure internal progress within Madison College while others are used for norm-referenced comparisons between Madison College and other similar institutions throughout Dane County, Wisconsin and the United States.

What is KPI?

A key performance indicator is the term used for the standards and objectives measured in the benchmarking process.

How do I complete a work request? How long will it take to process the request?

First, visit the IRE Work Request page and submit your request.

A member of the IRE department will contact you once your work request has been assigned. Typically two weeks is required in order to process the request, but if more time is required, your IRE associate will contact you with details and/or questions.

Two weeks is the standard time for requests, however some will take more or less time, depending on the volume of projects and the complexity of fulfilling the research objectives.

What training opportunities are available on how to conduct research?

Trainings are available throughout the year and upon request through the IRE department. Details on training opportunities, dates, times and locations are available on the Training page on the IRE website, or you can submit a work request through the IRE Work Request page. IRE team members are available for one on one training also upon request.

What is AQIP?

AQIP (Academic Quality Improvement Program) is required by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the Madison College institutional accreditor. The AQIP report provides evidence of organizational health and opportunities for improvement.


What is Cognos?

Cognos is a reporting tool and research instrument used to help users answer business questions and make key decisions. It can be used to create consolidated data reports or student lists, depending on the research needs.

What is the difference between an Enrollment Snapshot and a regular Enrollment report?

An Enrollment Snapshot is a real-time count of how many students are enrolled at Madison College, while the enrollment report is a list of students enrolled at Madison College.

How is Cognos different from PeopleSoft?

PeopleSoft contains more real time data on student metrics at a specific moment in time, while Cognos provides trend data.

How do I get access to Cognos?

You can request access to Cognos by completing a Work Request, or contact IRE for additional information. Permission is granted on a case by case basis.

Where can I find the Cognos training materials?

The Cognos training materials are located in the Training folder of the IRE website.

What is the fact book and how often is it refreshed?

The Fact Book contains enrollment (updated monthly), application (updated weekly), retention (updated every semester) and graduate data (updated every semester).  

Enrollment Data

Where is student enrollment data for a semester from this academic year?

Where is information located on student persistence from semester to semester?

Where is student data by campus or plan?

Where is student headcount and FTE information?

Where is student retention information by program?

Where is information located regarding student academic success?

Where is information on Madison College graduates located?