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Showing posts from February, 2016

My homage to the Atlas of the Census

In eighth grade, a teacher introduced my class to the Statistical Abstract of the United States, and it changed the way I looked at numbers and information.  Of course, in those days, it was just a book, and very hard to interact with.  But I still remember poring over it, absorbing interesting, if arcane, facts about the country and its regions.  Ever since, I've been fascinated with reference books like it.

Then, sometime about 2005, I came across the Census Atlas of the United States, and my mind was blown even more.  It contains page after page of maps, representing gobs of data, visualized in a way that tells stories, sometimes with a single picture.  One map, especially, made an impression on me. It's in this chapter, page 14 of the chapter, page 40 of the book, showing Prevalent Asian Group, by county.  If you can't download that large .pdf file, it's below:


In my job, and in higher education in general, we think about race and ethnicity a lot, of course, but he…

Educational Attainment in the States

In case the coverage of the 2016 presidential election didn't convince you, this might help you see why people in the rest of the country seem different somehow.

The data are from the US Census Bureau's American Community Survey, in 2012; this shows the educational attainment of adults 25-34 in that year.  Use the control at top right to pick a value to display on the map, and the states (represented by hex boxes here) change color to show the value you've chosen.  The bar chart also updates.

There are seven values:


Less than a HS Diploma shows the percentage of the population in that state aged 25-34 that did not complete high schoolHS Diploma or Less shows the number above plus the percentage of people who have just a high school diplomaExactly a HS Diploma shows just that: Everyone who graduated from high school but did not continueHS Diploma or Higher is the percentage with at least a high school diploma, including everyone who went beyond thatBachelor's Degree show…

Graduation Rates by Selectivity: Freshmen, 2007

This is the second part of my visualization of graduation rates from NCES. Part I is right below this one, or if  you want, you can click here to open it in a new window.

People in higher ed, and especially in government, talk a lot about graduation rates, and the presumption is this: That graduation rates are something we credit or blame on the colleges; that is, something a particular college does determines whether or not its graduation rate is high.  If Princeton stopped caring, presumably, its graduation rate would collapse.

Well, maybe.  Probably not, though.

We can see that a single factor, such as percentage of students in the freshman class with Pell, or the mean SAT score, can predict with some precision the graduation rate of a college or university.  If you don't believe me, see for yourself.

There is some variation in rates of colleges with similar profiles, of course, and people believe--correctly, or incorrectly, I'm not sure--that this is the important differen…

Graduation Rates, Rolled Up

I like the NCES Digest of Education Statistics, but some of the reports they present are almost unusable.  If you've ever tried to visualize a report like this, you know what I mean.  If anyone from NCES is reading this, please help and encourage the good people there to put data in a cleaned, unformatted report.

But, on to the data.  This is pretty simple, actually, and it bounces off previous visualizations I've done that show graduation rates are as much an input as an output.  The data are presented in three views: Over time, summarized for a single year, and by institutional type.  Click on the tabs to see them all, and use the filters on the right to select subsets.  You may want to look at women, or Hispanic students, for instance, and you can do so here.

There are some interesting patterns here.  It's clear that women, across the board, have higher graduation rates than men; and that colleges are not serving African American men very well.

What else do  you see? An…

In-state enrollment and Pell

A recent article in the Washington Post piqued my interest: Why the University of Oregon turned to neighboring states for students, by colleague Roger Thompson.

Some of this is no surprise, of course. I've been looking at NCES and WICHE data for years, and even visualized the latter to show how demographics will change enrollment profiles at colleges across the country.

Lots of publics realize this, and lots have attempted to enroll larger numbers and percentages of students from outside their states. There's more to it than population, however: It's one of education's worst-kept secrets that students who travel farther to college come from families with higher incomes (or vice versa, of course), and in general, so do students who cross state lines for their education. Public universities have discovered that high out-of-state tuition makes them less desirable, and so have recently adopted a revenue maximization model, often offering large discounts to non-resident stu…

Degrees awarded by Discipline, Ethnicity, and Gender, 2011 to 2013

This is three years of data from the NCES Digest of Education Statistics, breaking out all bachelor's degrees awarded by ethnicity, gender, and discipline.  For the sake of clarity, I rolled many of the disciplines together, and on at least one view, rolled up ethnicities into groups as well.

The first view simply takes a look at ethnicity and gender: What do Asian women, or Hispanic men study in college?  Eight views on one dashboard, showing some interesting stuff: 30% of Asian women study Science and Math, compared to just 9.5% of African American men.  Business always dominates with men, except Hispanic men.  Interesting.






Behold the power of DataViz.  This view is the exact same day, just shown a different way to allow you to get a comparative view.  This shows all ethnic groups in the data set, however, and the data in columns adds up to 100%.  So, for instance, in the very top left, of all degrees awarded to Asian women, 19.82% were in business.  The figure is 34.3% for nonr…