American University has had an office responsible for institutional research since the 1960's. Over the many years of service to AU, the office's responsibilities have expanded. The Office of Institutional Research and Assessment (OIRA) currently includes these areas of responsibility.
Monitoring and Reporting "Vital Statistics": The Academic Data Reference Book (ADRB) has been published annually since 1971. This yearbook provides consistently collected and reported data on topics we are frequently asked to address. The complete series of these volumes provides a paper-based data warehouse from which trend data can be extracted. You can access current and past editions of the ADRB on this site.
External Reporting: OIRA responds to approximately five dozen annual surveys from external agencies. Responsibility for surveys has been assigned here in order to foster consistency in responding to similar questions. These surveys range from US Government data collection efforts to the US News surveys to college guidebooks and directories. To learn more, see AU's external data resources on the institutional assessment page.
Survey Research Program: There is an increasing demand within the AU Community for information about student attitudes, opinions, and satisfaction levels. OIRA has responded to this need by developing a comprehensive survey research program. The program includes annual surveys of approximately 20,000 individuals, including freshmen, enrolled students and graduating students. Further details about these surveys are available on this site.
Research Reports and Projects: Demand for further information about selected topics defines the list of annual projects. Retention and graduation rate studies, academic program reviews and key indicator reports are among the topics currently included in this list. As a service unit, OIRA also makes every effort to respond to special requests for reports and studies.
Data Stewardship: OIRA, in cooperation with other select and administrative units (e.g. the Office of Enrollment, the Registrar's Office, and the Office of Information Technology), works to ensure the integrity of information obtained from AU's student data base. Currently the office is participating in development of a Business Intelligence system for AU executives and other AU staff.
A variety of regular reports are issued from OIRA pertaining to the current enrollment and enrollment projections. OIRA works with schools/colleges to verify and explain enrollment data and to act as a resource for those setting enrollment targets for the following year.
Accreditation, Certification, and External Liaison Responsibilities
Although OIRA has always played a role in institutional accreditation, providing required annual reports and supporting institutional self-study efforts, responsibilities in these areas have expanded significantly in recent years. In 1995-1996, OIRA provided a co-chair for the NCAA certification effort. In 1996-97, OIRA assumed a leadership role in developing the required follow-up report and managed a campus visit for the Middle States Association's Commission on Higher Education. In 1997-98 OIRA facilitated the required accreditation/affiliation process of the United Methodist Church's University Senate. OIRA also works with schools/colleges and departments which are undergoing disciplinary accreditation, providing data and information as required. OIRA had major responsibilities for the Middle State's reaccreditation that occurred in 2004, and a leadership role in the 2009 Periodic Review Report. OIRA also assists many academic units in their accreditation reporting.
Outcomes Assessment and Institutional Effectiveness
Accreditation standards increasingly address outcomes assessment and institutional effectiveness issues. Beyond externally imposed demands, AU has already recognized the need to develop more and better measures in these areas. OIRA is currently involved in assisting in the development of key indicator reports. For more information, please visit AU's Learning Outcomes and Assessment website.