Office of Institutional Effectiveness FAQ

What does the Office of Institutional Effectiveness (OIE) do?

OIE supports evidence-based decision-making by providing relevant and reliable data-based information and insight to administrators, faculty, program and unit directors and others. Learn more about what we do on our About OIE page.

What is “institutional research”?

Institutional research involves the collection, analysis and interpretation of information descriptive of an institution and its activities, including its students, faculty, staff, programs, management and operations. Institutional data are used internally for decision-making (e.g., strategic planning, assessment, departmental self-studies) and are also reported to federal, national, regional, and state agencies (e.g., IPEDS, MSCHE, NCAA, HEDS). Institutional reporting secures the College’s reputation in the public space and provides benchmark comparisons and trends for decision-making.

What is “assessment”?

​Assessment is a systematic process of inquiry and innovation that involves gathering qualitative and/or quantitative data to gauge progress on our goals. When conducted​ properly, assessment provides faculty, staff and administrative leaders with information about where changes to processes and practices might be needed, and where to invest effort and resources to improve important outcomes such as student learning, program completion, career-readiness, student and staff satisfaction, faculty scholarship, resource management and others. See our Guiding Principles to learn more about how assessment works at Queens College. For other assessment related questions, please see our Assessment FAQs.


What data does OIE use?

​OIE makes use of student and employee data from both internal and external data systems. Most of the data is derived from the college’s student and human resources management system, CUNYfirst, sometimes directly, but mostly indirectly through interfaces or extracts from CUNYfirst. Other data come from surveys and external data collections such as the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). OIE staff access institutional data from college and central office databases that arrange CUNYfirst data in ways that support the ongoing information and reporting requirements of the college. These include:

  • IRDB (Institutional Research Database)
  • QC Data Warehouse
  • CUNYfirst Reporting Instance
Can I request data from OIE?

The Office of Institutional Effectiveness (OIE) can provide data to QC academic and administrative departments to inform student success initiatives, to support program development and/or evaluation, and to guide strategic planning. The instructions for submitting a data request to the OIE can be found here: OIE Institutional Data

Please note that in accordance with FERPA, student education records are made available to QC faculty and staff members who have a need to know (legitimate educational interest) when fulfilling their official responsibilities at Queens College.

What kind of data can OIE provide?

Some examples of data the OIE can provide in summary form include:

  • Student demographics (e.g., gender, race/ethnicity)
  • Student academic characteristics (e.g., full-time/part-time status)
  • Student success data (e.g., graduation and retention rates)
  • Program data (e.g., faculty headcount, grades distributions)

The OIE adheres to a strict interpretation of FERPA in favor of student privacy. As designated data stewards for the college, it is our responsibility to ensure the privacy, confidentiality, security, and appropriate use of institutional data, and we extend the same principles to employee (faculty and staff) data. For this reason, the OIE will disclose the minimum amount of information necessary to answer the research question, as described in the data request, in order to protect student privacy.

In some cases, the requestor may need to complete a Restricted Use Agreement. However, even if a nondisclosure data agreement is submitted, any data shared by the OIE in its raw format should be considered sensitive information and all personnel working with this data (including research assistants and project staff) should understand and follow basic data security practices.


What kind of data is OIE not able to provide?
  • Personally Identifiable information (PII)
  • FERPA protected information

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. FERPA safeguards personally identifiable information and limits public disclosure of it. Personally identifiable information includes demographic data, biometric data, geographic data, and any information (included aggregated data) that can be used to trace an identity with reasonable certainty. Personally identifiable information (PII) cannot be released without student consent unless the request meets criteria for exception.

The OIE adheres to a strict interpretation of FERPA in favor of student privacy. As designated data stewards for the college, it is our responsibility to ensure the privacy, confidentiality, security, and appropriate use of data. We extend the same principles to employee (faculty and staff) data.

Is it permissible to share the data that OIE has provided to me?

Since this depends on the nature of the data that has been shared with you, please consult OIE.

Where can I find historical institutional data?

​Several interactive data displays on our website allow users to select a prior term to display historical data and some displays show trends over time. 

Does OIE provide help with surveys?

Yes! And we encourage all faculty and staff who are engaged in survey research to share their surveys with us, as we can provide expert feedback on survey design and methodology. We assist with all aspects program, departmental, and grant-funded survey projects, including instrument design, construct validity, sample creation, administration, analysis of responses and summaries of results (subject to availability and the existing survey schedule).

Learn more here: OIE Survey Support


Does OIE provide help with assessment projects?

Yes! OIE aims to promote a more meaningful and intuitive approach to higher education assessment practices. We believe that assessment should not only make sense and facilitate evidence-based decision making, but also build a culture of collaboration and innovation. With research methods and data analytics expertise, OIE can help you shape an assessment activity to make it valid and driven by answerable questions, help you keep your assessment plan on track, help you interpret the assessment findings with data visualization dashboards and help you facilitate discussions with your colleagues about the results. Assessment projects often include request for institutional data and requests for survey assistance. Check out our Introduction to Academic Assessment and our Guidelines for Administrative Assessment.

To learn more about Assessment at QC, please visit our Assessment website.

To request assistance from OIE, send an email to

Where can I find CUNY-wide institutional data?

The CUNY Office of Institutional Research (OIRA) conducts a wide variety of quantitative analysis to guide policy and evaluate academic programs and administrative processes at CUNY. CUNY-wide data reports can be found on the​ OIRA website.


What is Tableau?

Tableau is a data visualization tool that OIE staff (and others around the college, nation and world) use to present data in ways that make it easier for the user to understand and and utilize. Tableau is used to transform data into interactive dashboards for which the user can apply filters or select parameters to select the data that appears on the dashboard.

How can I access Tableau?

​There are two versions of Tableau that the OIE staff oversee, Tableau Public and Tableau Server. Tableau Public is a platform which stores Tableau dashboards which the OIE staff has published for public use, requiring no password to gain access. The QC OIE Tableau Public profile can be found here.

Tableau Server is a platform which stores Tableau dashboards which the OIE staff has published only to a limited number of Queens College faculty and staff members, which requires users to login using their QC credentials. We have a limited number of Tableau Server licenses at Queens College. Currently Department Chairs and a small number of other faculty and staff have access.

To access data displays available on Tableau Server, go to​ and log in with you QC credentials/CAMS account (the user id and password you use to log in to your work computer on campus). Contact the ITS Help Desk or 718-997-4444 for help with your QC account information.​

How can I learn more about Tableau?

​Tableau offers free training videos on their website as well as YouTube.

There are also tutorials available from


When was Queens College last reviewed for accreditation?

Our last Decennial Middle States Self-Study took place in Spring 2017. Through the Collaborative Implementation Project, QC was one of 15 institutions chosen to work with MSCHE’s new, streamlined standards. On June 22, 2018, MSCHE not only reaffirmed our accreditation, but also took note of our participation in the project and praised our self-study process and report. The 2017 self-study report can be viewed here.