Visualization of "Internal" Demand

Tim Stanley, Associate Director of Institutional Research and Information,
Utah Valley University

As part of our academic program prioritization process, decision makers at UVU need to understand how a department’s course offerings are utilized outside of the department. Many departments on campus generate a large amount of credit, despite having only a few majors. Looking only at the retention and graduation of their students offers an incomplete perspective into the department’s productivity. Departments offering general education courses or courses required by majors outside the department have this additional argument of “internal demand” during the prioritization process.

This visualization was built using Tableau, which readily allowed administrators to directly interact with the data. The current view displays registrations in courses in the department of Behavioral Science for the current semester (Fall 2013). Forty-four percent of current registrations in the department are with students with a different major. (A multi-year display is planned for the future.) Individual courses are identified if more than 25% of the students have majors outside the department, and the course has at least 25 students total outside the major. These default thresholds can be modified by users as needed to tell their story. Additionally, users can drill down to explore which majors outside the department tend to register for particular classes. In this example, I have displayed the outside students currently registered for Behavioral Science Statistics. Although displayed here below, that would normally be on a second page. We can see that three majors: Exercise Science, Communication, and Criminal Justice make up the vast majority of outsiders in this course.  




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Total Comments: 8
John posted on 12/11/2013 3:30 PM
I really like the combination of stacked bar to 100% with histogram info graphic. I often struggle with putting these two together and the rotated approach works very nicely with these data.

The tile plot is a bit trickier and will probably take some explanation the first time around. How was the tile plot received by the report consumer?
Ghenet posted on 12/12/2013 1:00 AM
The graphs are creative ways to demonstrate department's productivity by showing courses with increased demand from outside that department.
I think the approach can also be used interpret revenue generation in addition to the indirect role of a department to the increased retention and graduation rate of other departments.
The only thing would be the very small numbers in the 2nd graph that are represented in percentages. It might be better to give the combined percentage of majors outside the department.
Nicole posted on 12/12/2013 9:54 AM
Great work with Tableau! I love the use of the tree map and hope that it goes over well at your campus. It is one of my favorite chart types in Tableau, but seems to be a struggle for most to comprehend the meaning. The color legend could be improved by using either the color blind palette or using a gradient of one of your school colors, mirroring your chart above.
Tim posted on 12/12/2013 9:58 AM
This visualization meets the needs of decision-makers. The concept that a department is important to campus goes beyond the simple number of majors in that degree program. There are many courses in behavioral sciences, liberal arts, and mathematics, that regardless of the number of majors are vital to a campus. These show that the courses are utilized by outside majors and provide a great opportunity for students to learn a variety of topics.

The data is displayed in a way that at-a-glance you can see the issue at hand. Then, when drilling down and spending time looking at the data, you can see the nuances and specific details of the courses and majors. Your identification of the ability to adjust the data being displayed makes for a powerful tool for different users.
Betsy posted on 12/12/2013 11:38 AM
I agree with John and Ghenet. The bars are very effective and the tiles less so. In particular with the tiles, my eyes are quickly drawn to the aqua square and the empty maroon one above it that seems to reflect some type of rounding error, perhaps. I feel that this type of chart is ideal for showing the differences between huge and tiny categories, but in this case that's not really the point. And as an outsider, I find myself thinking more about what sort of differences might exist between the "Integrated Studies" and the "University Studies" majors.
Gail posted on 12/12/2013 3:43 PM
Great visuals. I could understand the story right away and I really like how you can set criteria. If it allows footnotes you could provide brief description of one row so all can understand as there are always people who struggle to understand graphs. The rectangle works for me but a circle (pie chart) might be easier for a general audience.
Gary posted on 12/12/2013 3:56 PM
This is nice, Tim. I expect that it was well-received - especially the top portion. I think an ordered table in place of the mosaic plot would convey the same information more effectively. It is interesting, but it dominates the page.
Pat posted on 12/13/2013 12:15 PM

This is great! I was able to understand what the message the visual display was giving before even reading your synopsis. I think that's extremely important. Very well done. The visual display below, although not as aesthetically pleasing as the one above, also provides a clear message. I like the how the size proportions of each tile are proportionate.