Institutional research is an adaptive tool, . It aids decision-makers in assessing an institution's efficiency, and in determining the appropriateness of the instiution's goals in relation to social needs. However, given the limited resources available for planning, choices must at times be made as to whether to concentrate analytical studies on internal functioning or on the external environment. The following article, by Joan C. Tonn, assistant director of the office of educational planning at the University of Massachusetts/Boston, describes how the planning focus of one institution evolved along with changing external conditions in recent years.
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