foundational resources

Foundational Resources for Institutional Research

Perhaps you’re new to Institutional Research. Or maybe you’ve been swimming along since you started your position, but have a nagging feeling you’re missing something. Or it could be that you’re trying to guide your colleagues to resources to help understand your work. If you’ve been out there on the internet looking for THE foundational resources for working with and understanding institutional research, then chances are, you’ve quickly felt overwhelmed, closed your browser windows, and directed your attention elsewhere. Since we’ve been around the proverbial block a few times, we thought we’d share our most recommend resources with you.

Stick figure icon with three arrows searching for direction - maybe looking for foundational resources?

Start at the Beginning

The Association for Institutional Research (AIR) and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) have lots of great resources that many Institutional Researchers go back to again and again. So, we recommend setting aside some time to familiarize yourself with these great foundational resources:


Get Local

Depending on your institution’s location, you can look to additional regional and/or state Associations of Institutional Research for additional resources. For example, you might consider joining your local Association(s), signing up for their listservs, and attending their conferences. This kind of involvement can help you connect with colleagues and resources that may be more specific to your institution and situation. So, be sure to check out the AIR Affiliates page to see which IR Organizations are local to you.

Dig Deeper

After working through some of the foundational resources described above, you may find you are ready to dig deeper on some topics. You can further reinforce your IR knowledge foundation with some of these additional resources:

  • AIR’s Holistic Approach to Institutional Research Online Course – This 6-week course gives a deeper understanding of IR with special attention to communication and relationship building strategies. It culminates with a highly recommend face-to-face interactive seminar.
  • AIR’s Text Publications – Some of our favorites include:
    • The Primer for Institutional Research
    • People, Processes and Managing Data
    • Handbook of Institutional Research
    • Leadership and Management in Institutional Research


IEHE is Here to Help

Whether you’re interested in getting update notifications about our Postcollege Outcomes Research Clearinghouse or you want to be updated on Institute in Effectiveness in Higher Education news and publications, we’ve got you covered. And if you or your institution is looking for other ideas to get folks up-to-speed on the foundational IR knowledge they need in order to make data driven decisions, IEHE may be able to help. Send us a note and let’s see if we can work together to make sure your institutions’ needs met.

Did we miss your favorite Foundational resource for institutional research? Comment below to let us know!

The Institute for Effectiveness in Higher Education (IEHE) innovates and improves higher education standards through our strategic research, publicly available resources, and partnerships with colleges and universities. We provide extensive expertise on data strategy, IPEDS, institutional research and student success to drive institutional effectiveness.