Institutional Research and Effectiveness


To connect people with the data and information needed to make decisions


  • Cultivate a culture of data-informed decision making 
  • Describe the college (in terms of data) to external and internal stakeholders 

Duties and functions

Identify information needs

This functional area reflects the iterative process of identifying relevant stakeholders and their decision support needs. It includes anticipating questions through review of data, information, and research and policy studies, including those related to institutional, state and national conversations around higher education. It also includes assisting stakeholders in developing and refining research questions. 

Collect, analyze, interpret and report data and information

This functional area reflects the technical tasks of providing data, information and analysis for decision support. It involves an understanding of the data available to answer pressing questions about student access and success and institutional operations and the process by which previously unavailable data are collected. The process of collecting and reporting required and requested data is encompassed in this area. This function also incorporates applied research methods to analyze data to provide information for decision making, including appropriate interpretation of analysis results. 

Educate information producers, users and consumers

This functional area encompasses the training and coaching related to the use of data, analysis and information to inform decision making. Education can be focused on ensuring the ability to collect, access, analyze and interpret information independently and in collaboration with other stakeholders. The function also includes a collaborative role in convening discussions related to information needs and connecting internal and external producers and users of data with one another for purposes of informing decision making. Scholarship to inform and improve data, information, and analysis for decision support is also included in this function. 

Serve as stewards of data and information

This functional area highlights institutional research’s role in ensuring an institution-wide data strategy. Compliance issues such as privacy and security and ethical issues such as determining what data and information should be used for various purposes, and whether interpretations are correct and appropriately used, are also critical to this area. This area also includes the contribution of IR to data quality assurance activities. IR’s role in ensuring data are appropriately accessible and usable to those who need them to make decisions is inherent in this function as well. 

Plan and evaluate

Planning commonly includes operational and strategic planning where we collaborate with other units at the institution, state or related organizations. It may also include program review, particularly for accreditation purposes. Formative and summative evaluation processes conducted at an institution use IR data and analysis for planning and decision-making purposes.