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:

AIR’s IPEDS Tutorials – Free free tutorials for understanding IPEDS surveys and data tools.

AIR’s IPEDS Workshops – Various modalities (online and face-to-face) and topics to meet your needs.

Additional IPEDS Resources from AIR – A cultivated collection of supplemental AIR and NCES resources for IPEDS.

NCES’ IPEDS Listserv – Great source for timely IPEDS Q&A and discussion.


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


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  • IPEDS Coaching
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  • Institutional Research / Institutional Effectiveness Coaching

All coaching services are with Kristina ‘KP’ Powers and include a complementary discovery session to find out if coaching is a good fit.