Institutional Research and Assessment

Word cloud of institutional research termsInstitutional research is research conducted within an institution of higher education to provide information which supports institutional planning, policy formation and decision making. Assessment is the term used at Elon to represent the process of systematically and regularly collecting and interpreting empirical evidence to determine program and institutional effectiveness in the areas of student learning and development.


Surveys are an important method for gathering feedback, perceptions, behaviors, expectations, and ideas from students, faculty, and staff members. OIRA supports these assessments as several levels:

  • coordinating administration of national studies such as the National Survey of Student Engagement and the CIRP Freshman Survey;
  • developing and administering surveys on topics of interest to the campus community;
  • performing analyses in response to institutional needs and priorities; and,
  • preparing reports and summaries for distribution to partners and stakeholders.

Results have been used for decision support and benchmarking with the intent to improve effectiveness at all levels of the institution.  More information about surveys at Elon can be found here


Standard and ad-hoc reporting is critical to providing information to decision makers. The OIRA produces a number of reports on an annual basis. These reports are used by stakeholders when gauging the overall environment of Elon and provide additional information when making decisions about resource allocation, policy changes, or measurements towards progress.

Examples of reports are:

  • Enrollment Forecasting

College Guides

College guides are an important resource for potential students and their families. College guides tend provide additional contextual information such as reputational scores, organizations on campus, percent of students who stay on campus during the weekends, or key activities offered at the institution. Some of the more commonly known college guides that Elon participates are:

  • US News and World Report
  • The Fiske Guide to Colleges
  • Barron’s Profile of American Colleges
  • The College Board
  • The Princeton Review
  • Poets and Quants
  • Kiplinger’s Personal Finance
  • Petersons College Guide
  • U-CAN


Interactive dashboards empower stakeholders to explore their data in ways that are meaningful. The OIRA provides limited and secure access to interactive dashboards as a way of providing information to decision makers. The office provides these dashboards to the Provost Team, Deans and Associate Deans, and Department Chairs. Interactive dashboards are updated on a regular basis – typically each major term (Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer-1, and Summer-2).

Institutional Studies

The primary purpose of the OIRA is to conduct analysis about Elon University and to provide those findings to appropriate stakeholders so they have more information when making decisions. While many analyzes can be standardized (i.e., conducted on a regular basis), some studies are ad-hoc in nature (such as specific course taking patterns, AP scores, or study abroad patterns by athletes) and require more time for testing and validation. The OIRA strives to work collaboratively with impacted areas to better understand the concern(s), help formulate and shape the question(s), and to employ appropriate methodologies. Only by following standard and acceptable practices will the institutional studies have meaningful implications.