ERIC Number: EJ1064382
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Reference Count: N/A
Visualizing Student Flows: Busting Myths about Student Movement and Success
Heileman, Gregory L.; Babbitt, Terry H.; Abdallah, Chaouki T.
Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, v47 n3 p30-39 2015
Many institutions are trying to better understand the factors that drive student success and failure in order to improve the efficiency of degree production. Traditional academic reporting systems are not adequate for this purpose, since they are designed to measure outcomes, not to uncover the factors that influence them. To address this problem, colleges and universities are now collecting and analyzing unprecedented amounts of data related to student success. Academic information systems containing student demographics, academic performance, use of support services, advising notes, course level behaviors, survey responses, etc., generate a mountain of data that could provide insights into student success and the impediments to it. This article describes a framework that was developed for exploring how students flow through the university. A brief historical account of Sankey diagrams is provided because the authors used Sankey diagrams to correct a number of misconceptions related to student success on their campus. Using these diagrams, they can pick a division (college) within the institution and explore how students move into and out of it and its subdivisions (departments and majors) over time, taking into account those who stop out or graduate along the way. These visual inspections provide a high-level view that is very useful in directing further investigations and in informing campus conversations about student success. A number of specific cases are described. These diagrams could be used to visualize and better understand other aspects of institutional effectiveness, such as how tuition, fees, and other sources of funding support the various components of the academic mission. A lsit of resources is provided.
Descriptors: Misconceptions, Academic Achievement, Academic Advising, Student Characteristics, Information Systems, Data Analysis, Academic Support Services, Visual Aids, Majors (Students), Departments, Student Behavior, Institutional Evaluation, School Effectiveness, Higher Education, College Students, Guidelines
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New Mexico