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What is Institutional Research?

Institutional research is the work of using quantitative and qualitative data to describe and analyze school processes. Institutional research projects help a school assess how well they are attaining their mission and provide insights for ways to improve.

Common areas of institutional research include:

  • Enrollment Management and Marketing
  • Tracking the impact of curricular changes and academic outcomes
  • Developing metrics to measure Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in a school community
  • Financial modeling and budgeting
  • Measuring student growth in non-academic areas like wellness, the arts, or athletics
  • Establishing ongoing feedback loops for all constituencies including faculty, parents/guardians, students, and alumni
  • Supporting hiring and faculty professional development

Who are Institutional Researchers?

There are many effective models of institutional research in schools. Some schools have a designated, full or part-time position explicitly titled Institutional Researcher who may work closely with the assistant head of school. In some schools, institutional research projects are part of an assistant head’s duties. In another model, the institutional researcher position is housed within the Technology or Development Office and may focus on data architecture or database administration. In yet another model, an institutional research committee composed of several standing members with technical expertise and several rotating faculty members with project-specific experience work together to complete the work. Still other schools partner with outside consultants to fill in expertise gaps or relieve time pressure within their faculty. While all of these models can be successful, we suggest choosing the organizational structure that maximizes your school’s ability to harness the core institutional research competencies.