Defining the Duties and Functions of Institutional Research

Throughout its more than 50-year history, AIR has involved itself in the process of defining institutional research as a profession and a critical function in higher education. As evidenced by the many papers and historical documents on the 50th Anniversary webpage, AIR membership has continually explored the topic of the use of data and information in decision making in higher education. Much as the Code of Ethics and Professional Practice was developed to provide AIR members with broad ethical statements with which to guide their professional lives, the Duties and Functions of Institutional Research identifies the areas necessary for an effective institutional research function in an institution, system, or organization. (See graphic, below)Duties-and-Functions-sidebar.png

AIR has provided professional development training and resources to its membership in various forms since the first AIR Forum was convened in 1961. The Duties and Functions of Institutional Research, and the accompanying Knowledge and Skills, under development as a linked companion piece, are designed to assist the Association in identifying needed professional development offerings to meet its defined Policy Governance End that states:

Institutional researchers have the knowledge and skills necessary to perform the duties and functions of institutional research, including: methods and tools; internal institutional effectiveness; external accountability; professional and interpersonal skills; and research and scholarship.

Many higher education professional associations have developed a set of knowledge and skills necessary to perform the work of their respective fields. As AIR began to undertake this process, it was soon apparent that defining the duties and functions of institutional research was the first necessary step. Not only was this a valuable exercise in defining the needed knowledge and skills, but it provided the opportunity to clearly and concisely define the function of institutional research and identify the duties and functions that ensure an effective institutional research function at an institution, system, or organization. Defining these core functions further professionalizes the field and allows practitioners of IR to highlight their value within their organizational structure.

With this release of the Duties and Functions of Institutional Research, AIR hopes to create a dialogue among its membership related to the value and effectiveness of institutional research offices and functions throughout higher education. AIR will provide resources related to the project for use by membership in the form of evaluation materials for accreditation and other purposes, job description templates, professional development assessment tools, training, resources, and other materials for the practical application of the Duties and Functions of Institutional Research and Knowledge and Skills companion piece. Our hope is that AIR members and others interested in the strengthening of the IR capacity in higher education will share resources with AIR to benefit the greater IR community.

We invite you to participate in the conversation by commenting below, or on the webpage dedicated to the project, learning more about the project by participating in sessions at the 2017 AIR Forum and AIR affiliate organization conferences in the coming year, and sharing thoughts and resources via social media, including AIR's Facebook and LinkedIn pages, as well as various Twitter outlets: @AIR4Data, #DandFofIR, and #IRWaterCooler. For questions about the development of the Duties and Functions of Institutional Research, please refer to the development document or email Gina Johnson, Strategy Director for IR Capacity Initiatives at gjohnson@airweb.org.

 

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