The Office of Institutional Research conducts research, plays leadership and consulting roles, and serves as the steward for the campus's official statistics. IR is responsible for some of the university's compliance with governmental requirements.
IR conducts original research using information from a variety of sources which generally are comprehensive data files on some aspect of university business. Typical sources include student registration, admissions, financial aid, and human resources. Projects are generally conducted with an eye toward policy development, decision making, and university planning. We delve into university records and create data files that, combined with modern statistical methods, allow us to do a number of things. IR examines potential scenarios with the intent of informing discussions on, for example, student admissions or financial aid policy. The office conducts program/intervention evaluations on student performance and retention effects. Research for university planning includes studies on class size, faculty workload, and course offerings.
IR is a service office and any campus constituent with policy research needs can request our time. We frequently assist administrators, faculty, and campus committees with the development and implementation of studies on academic resources, program activities, and some educational outcomes. We can provide information, conduct analysis, or even formulate research-based recommendations on issues of interest to you. Visit the section on Projects to learn how to access our services.
IR plays a leadership role in promoting a culture of evidence on campus and in sustaining the university's commitment to continuous improvement. In addition to taking the lead on many projects IR also serves an educational role in enhancing understanding of different approaches to thinking about, planning, and implementing research and evaluation projects. In order to yield useful results it is important to have good information, ask the right questions, use good data, and have a suitable analysis plan; thus, IR helps the university community:
- Refine research and evaluation questions
- Identify and use existing data applicable to a project
- Understand key metrics and definitions of terms
- Choose appropriate methods
Publishing Official Statistics
Every campus must have a single source that produces and publishes official statistics. These statistics are used for many purposes including providing data complying with eight major annual survey of the federal government, preparing grant applications, writing university reports, and satisfying requests from external organizations. The information is in some cases used for college guides and ratings publications (e.g., U.S. News). Although other functional units could theoretically provide valid statistics, IR works to ensure that statistics are presented clearly and consistently over time and according to standard definitions. A single official source prevents confusing inconsistencies and gives the campus community and external agencies an obvious place to obtain information.
IR is an official liaison with the federal government. The office is responsible for completing eight major annual surveys for the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), an information system of the U.S. Department of Education.