Institutional Research and Themes, North America

  • Victor M. H. Borden
  • Braden J. Hosch
Living reference work entry

Latest version View entry history




Institutional research refers to the organized activities performed by professional and academic staff to inform planning and decision-making within postsecondary (higher education and tertiary) institutions. The term broadly refers to the provision of decision-support information in the postsecondary sector regardless of its level of organization or formality (Saupe 1990), and to the application of research and analysis to the practice of administering postsecondary institutions, regardless of whether it is applied to decision-making (Terenzini 1999). However, in this entry we consider specifically the organized activity of institutional research as it is practiced by staff who are employed by postsecondary institutions, typically (but not always) in academic and administrative support units to provide other academic and administrative staff with decision support and related analytic information. The qualifier, “typically”...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Borden, Victor M.H., and Brandi Kernel. 2012. Measuring quality in higher education: An inventory of instruments, tools and resources. Association for Institutional Research, National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, and the American Council on Education. Accessed 21 Sept 2017.
  2. Borden, Victor M.H., and Karen L. Webber. 2015. Institutional and educational research in higher education: Common origins, diverging practices. In Institutional research and planning in higher education: Global themes and context, ed. Karen L. Webber and Angel J. Calderdon, 16–27. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Borden, Victor M. H. and Pike G. W. (eds.). 2008. Assessing and accounting for student learning: Beyond the Spellings Commission. New Directions for Institutional Research, No. S1. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  4. Carnevale, Anthony P., Megan L. Fasules, Stephanie A. Bond Huie, and David R. Troutman. 2017. Major matters most: The economic value of bachelor’s degrees from the University of Texas System. Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Accessed 21 Sept 2017.
  5. Chetty, Raj, John N. Friedman, Emmanuel Saez, Nicholas Turner, and Danny Yagan. 2017. Mobility report cards: The role of colleges in intergenerational mobility, National Bureau of Economic Research working paper 23618. Accessed 21 Sept 2017.
  6. Coughlin, Mary Ann, Jerold S. Laguilles, Heather A. Kelly, and Allison M. Walters. 2016. Postgraduate outcomes in American higher education. New Directions for Institutional Research 169: 11–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hutchins, Patricia. 2009. The new guys in assessment town. Change: The magazine of higher learning 41 (3): 26–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Jones, Darlena. 2017. Information provided through email exchange with the author from Association for Instituitonal Research member database, Sept 2017.Google Scholar
  9. Kilgore, Wendy, and Brent Gage. 2015. The role of technology in supporting SEM. In Handbook of strategic enrollment management, ed. Donald Hossler and Bob Bontrager, 427–446. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  10. Ma, Jennifer and Sandy Baum. 2016. Trends in college pricing 2016. The College Board. Accessed 21 Sept 2017.
  11. Reichard, Donald J. 2012. The history of institutional research. In The handbook of institutional research, ed. Richard D. Howard, Gerald W. McLaughlin, and William E. Knight, 3–21. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  12. Rojewski, Jay W. 2002. Preparing the workforce of tomorrow: A conceptual framework for career and technical education. Journal of Vocational Education Research 27 (1): 7–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Russell, Alene. 2011. A guide to major US college completion initiatives. American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Accessed 21 Sept 2017.
  14. Sarsfield, Steve. 2009. The data governance imperative. A business strategy for corporate data. Cambridgeshire: IT Governance Publishing.Google Scholar
  15. Saupe, Joseph L. 1990. The functions of institutional research (2). Tallahassee: Association for Institutional Research. Accessed 21 Sept 2017.
  16. Stull-Lane, Piper. 2017. Define analytics: The changing role of BI’s favorite catch-all term. Tableau Whitepaper. Accessed 21 Sept 2017.
  17. Swing, Randy L, and Leah E. Ross. 2016. Statement of aspirational practice for institutional research. Association for Institutional Research, Tallahassee. Accessed 21 Sept 2017.
  18. Swing, Randy L., Darlena Jones, and Leah E. Ross. 2016. The AIR national survey of institutional research offices. Tallahassee: Association for Institutional Research. Accessed 21 Sept 2017.
  19. Taylor, John, Martin Hanlon, and Mantz Yorke. 2013. The evolution and practice of institutional research. New Directions for Institutional Research 2013 (157): 59–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Terenzini, Patrick T. 1999. On the nature of institutional research and the knowledge and skills it requires. New Directions for Institutional Research 1999 (104): 21–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Wang, X. (2016). Special issue: studying transfer in higher education: new approaches to enduring and emerging topics. New Directions for Institutional Research 170:1–127.Google Scholar
  22. Zilvinskis, John, and Victor M.H. Borden. 2017. Concluding thoughts. New Directions for Higher Education 2017 (179): 103–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Zilvinskis, John, James Willis III, and Victor M.H. Borden. 2017. An overview of learning analytics. New Directions for Higher Education 2017 (179): 9–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Postsecondary ResearchIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  2. 2.Institutional Research, Planning & EffectivenessStony Brook UniversityStony BrookUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Bjørn Stensaker
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EducationUniversity of OsloOsloNorway