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From Far East to the Far North: Japanese educators visit to learn BSU methods

MONTE DRAPER | BEMIDJI PIONEER Four Institutional researchers from different universities in Japan have been meeting with Bemidji State University officials this week to exchange knowledge on research and data-compilation. Pictured, from left, are BSU Research Analyst Intermediate Koji Fujiwara as he explains institutional research trends to Shigeru Asano, Kenichi Ohno, Toshiyuki Shimada and Takuo Kominato.

BEMIDJI -- Employees of four Japanese higher education institutions this week have been meeting with staff at Bemidji State University to exchange knowledge with one another.

BSU hosted the Japanese guests -- all associate professors at their respective schools -- as they sought information from BSU staff on how American universities conduct their institutional research.

Doug Olney, director of BSU's Office of Research and Effectiveness, said his office conducts research and data-compilation on topics such as student enrollment, graduation and the cost of academic programs.

The staff then works to analyze that information, for example, looking at student retention, trends, such as the types of students who do not return after a semester or two on campus. "I do find things that are a surprise to administrators and faculty," he said.

He said the Japanese professors are seeking first-hand knowledge of American practices as they look to improve their own methodologies.

"They're wanting to know what is going on with institutional research in the U.S. so they can take it back and say, 'Here are some ideas for us,'" Olney said.