The Office of Institutional Research (IR) establishes baseline data, conducts research, prepares analytical reports, and supplies data and analysis to support university planning and decision making. The analysis function involves designing, developing, and completing interpretive studies as well as the timely provision of accurate, current, and relevant institutional data to the Cal Poly campus community, the California State University system, and other interested parties.
With respect to enrollment, human resources, financial, course, and space data, the Office of Institutional Research is primarily an interpretive and analytical user of aggregate rather than transactional data. Thus the office depends on other campus offices for data entry and accuracy so that the Institutional Research staff can focus on how the data should be aggregated, compared, and interpreted across transactions and across functions – and how this information can assist the university with future planning and managing of resources.
Office Functions and Activities
IR’s analysis generally starts with data related to students and enrollment, since the size and composition of the student body tends to drive planning for other resources—faculty and staff, budgets, and facilities. As a result, IR devotes more attention to enrollment-related data and planning, and other offices use that data to pursue more detailed planning (e.g., admission targets by discipline, faculty recruitment, and revenue projections).
Further, IR sees itself as a “provider” of aggregate information in two ways. The first involves the development of analytical reports, which may be published in print or electronic form at designated intervals (e.g., quarterly) or upon request by the office's constituents. The second involves enabling campus users to conduct their own analysis. Thus, IR has been an active partner with Information Technology Services in helping to make data sources available electronically along with information delivery tools so that users can design queries that meet their particular needs.