Bucknell Dashboards: Sankey Diagrams

 Kevork Horissian
Assistant Provost for Institutional Research & Assessment
Bucknell University

In the past couple of years, our team has been exploring approaches to display flows from one group to another. We researched many options, but decided that Sankey diagrams may be the best approach for our goals. They are visually appealing, easy to use, and provide concise information using complex data.

Two dashboards are shared below to demonstrate how we used Sankey diagrams to display flows. The first dashboard was created to trace the relationship between academic areas in Arts & Sciences and careers for graduated alumni (Example 1). The width of the lines shows proportionally to the flow quantity. All careers and academic areas are listed alphabetically. Each color on the left-hand side represents an academic area. Each color on the right-hand side represents a career path. The dashboard is interactive and allows users to choose any academic area on the left hand side and trace it to the different careers on the right hand side (Example 2). The headcounts in each major and career path can be seen when users mouse over a specific category. Users can also choose a career path on the right-hand side and examine its relationships to different academic areas (Example 3). What the data showed us was not a surprise. While graduates from certain majors tend to choose certain careers, the solid education received by Bucknell students allows them to pursue any career regardless of their major.

Dashboard Example 1. Sankey Diagram between Academic Areas and Career Path


Dashboard Example 2. Sankey Diagram Academic Area to Career Path

Dashboard Example 3. Sankey Diagram Career Path to Academic Areas


Bucknell is unique compared to most liberal arts institutions due to the fact that we have three colleges: Arts and Sciences (A&S), Management, and Engineering. We have been trying to observe how much cross-pollination there is between the different schools. In other words, we are trying to determine A&S student enrollment in courses taught by Engineering faculty or engineering students taking Management courses, etc. On the right side of the second dashboard, we have two filters. The first filter of College/School controls the left side of the diagram and the second filter of Course Division Description determines in which college/division students take courses. These filters allow the user to choose any desired combination. (See Example 4).

Dashboard Example 4. Sankey Diagram for Course Enrollment


Please keep in mind that you are viewing static images and the actual dashboards are interactive, allowing users to apply different filters and to navigate the relationships with their cursor.   






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Total Comments: 2
Nicole posted on 8/22/2016 8:36 AM
What tool was used to build this? This looks like it might be done in Tableau, but just curious. I've done a similar project following students from term 1-12. The Sankey diagrams work well for these types of projects. Looks great!
Kevork posted on 8/24/2016 11:54 AM
Hi, Nicole. You are correct. We used Tableau. It took us some time to get it work since Tableau does not have it as a standard option. Kevork