Use of De-Identified Administrative Student Data
The University of Pittsburgh collects administrative data in PeopleSoft, our student information system, throughout a student’s career. Administrative data includes, but is not limited to, survey data; application data; demographic data; enrollment, graduation, and degree data; and course-level data. These data are regularly analyzed by administrative leaders as a part of our continuous process to review, evaluate, and improve our educational programs and the services we provide.
At times, faculty researchers request to use these data to conduct educational research that will contribute to what is known about teaching and learning. For the purposes of this type of research, a student’s name is not associated with their data; this is referred to as de-identified data. Researchers only have access to de-identified student data after receiving approval by the Office of the Provost, Pitt IT, and the Human Research Protection Office (if applicable). However, it is important to keep in mind that through exploration of the de-identified data it may be feasible for an individual student to be identified. Additional information on the process for accessing de-identified administrative student data can be found here.
It is a student’s right to choose not to allow their de-identified administrative data to be shared for research purposes. Although their administrative data will still be collected by the University of Pittsburgh, should a student choose to opt-out, the student’s data will not be shared with researchers.
Please fill out this form to opt-out of having your de-identified data shared with researchers, or if you would like to opt back in to having your data shared. Once you opt-out of having your de-identified data shared, you do not have to do it again.
I have already restricted access to my data under FERPA, is this different?
The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student educational records. A student’s educational record includes: e-mails, grades, advisor notes, duty reports, conduct records, card scans, and application files of students who are enrolled. A record that does not contain any personally identifiable information is not considered an educational record.
Students have a limited right to restrict access to their educational record, including directory information, which can be done through a Non-Disclosure of Directory Information request through the Office of the University Registrar. Students also have a right to inspect and review their educational record, and to request amendments to their record. However, data protected under FERPA does not include de-identified student data. Therefore, to opt-out of having your de-identified data shared with researchers, this separate opt-out form must be submitted.