staff at conferenceGiven the incredible volume of readily available data on the students and communities we serve, how can Skyline College leverage visual platforms to inform equity and outreach efforts? The College’s Outreach Office, in collaboration with the Planning, Research, and Institutional Effectiveness (PRIE) Office, took the plunge. The Outreach Office seeks to ensure that prospective students are fully informed about Skyline College as a viable option for reaching their educational goals. Student Equity Plan data provided further insight about students with whom the College can conduct more intentional outreach. The challenge was in how to present available data in a readily accessible format to help inform and support equity and outreach work. This effort resulted in three types of maps being created via geographic information system (GIS) software through collaboration with Dynamic Planning + Science.

While GIS is frequently employed across a wide range of industries including urban planning and environmental sciences, it is less often brought into play in institutional research at the college level. Last month, the PRIE Office was selected to share Skyline College’s recently created maps through a well-attended poster session at the Research and Planning Group’s annual conference (RP Conference is the largest gathering of institutional researchers and planners in the California Community College system). Skyline College received many accolades from an enthusiastic audience for the design of the maps, as well as the intentionality behind the types of local community, high school, and student equity data displayed.

Of course, maps are only as useful as we make them! While the maps have made their way through various campus committees, events, and district-level meetings, we are eager to hear from you! Do you have any ideas for upcoming events or conversations that may benefit from the visual information that maps provide? If so, please reach out to Zahra Mojtahedi in the PRIE Office (

To see the maps and learn more about ongoing and forthcoming high school outreach activities, keep an eye out for the upcoming poster session at Skyline College’s Fall 2017 Opening Day in August (the Outreach and PRIE Office will be co-presenting).

Article by the Office of Planning, Research & Institutional Effectiveness