Skip to main content

Reworking the Chronicle of Higher Education Visualization

This morning, The Chronicle of Higher Education published a story about the University of South Carolina, and its ambitious goal to bring African-American enrollment more in line with the state's population of African-American residents.  Given that the state population is over a quarter African-American, and USC's student population is about 9.5%, and given the timeline (by 2025), this goal is ambitious, to say the least.

The story had a chart, showing the mathematical gap of the states, using a simple measure: Percentage of African-Americans in the state flagship institution, minus the percentage of African-American students in the state population.  In case you can't get to the story (and if you work in education you really should consider supporting our trade paper with a subscription), it looks like this:

On this map, you can see the light colors, where the gap is the largest, and the dark colors, where the gap is the smallest, or in some cases, actually negative (that is, the percentage of African-Americans in the flagship is higher than the state population.)

But I wanted a little more, so I did some quick re-work on the data.  (As a side note, I wish publishers would make their data available; I had to manually re-create this, which might explain any errors you find.)  

If I were doing this, I'd have started with a different base: The African-American population of 17-24 year-olds, for instance.  And I might have adjusted representation based on the inter-state migration patterns, if I had the time and the modeling skills.  I would have also used raw numbers, and then calculated the percentages separately, as both numbers and percents can be helpful. Collectively, this quibbling demonstrates how hard it is to define precisely which institutions are doing the best job in enrolling diverse populations. Maybe another time.

As an aside, I supposed I should re-do this five-year-old visualization that used Simpon's Diversity Index. 

Using the data available, I found myself dissatisfied with the simple arithmetic gap, and instead calculated a variable called Index of Concentration where 100 is perfectly representational; anything over 100 shows over-representation, and anything under 100 indicates under-representation.  It's calculated by (flagship population/state population) * 100.

As you can see in the visualization below, this shows a different picture.  The top is an array of the states, to show some sense of values, and the bar chart on the bottom to show rank and ranges.  Blue values show over-representation; orange values show under-representation, and gray values are in the middle.




This is not to suggest, of course, that this way of looking at the data is better; it's just different.  And even this view can skew your perception of reality.  It might be easy to conclude that southern states do the worst job, while northern states do better.  While it might be fair to criticize the dark orange states, it probably wouldn't be a good idea to congratulate the blue or gray states, however.

Why? Look at the same data, viewed in yet another way: A scattergram crossing state population and flagship populations of African-American students.  It's clear that the blue states (the ones presumably doing the best job) are also the ones with lower percentages of African-Americans in the general population.  

That makes the question different, and the answer "it depends."

As always, dig into this, and let me know what you see.  And especially, what you might do better.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

So you think you're going back to the SAT and ACT?

Now that almost every university in the nation has gone test-optional for the 2021 cycle out of necessity, a nagging question remains: How many will go back to requiring tests as soon as it's possible?  No one knows, but some of the announcements some colleges made sounded like the kid who only ate his green beans to get his screen time: They did it, but they sure were not happy about it.  So we have some suspicions about the usual suspects. I don't object to colleges requiring tests, of course, even though I think they're not very helpful, intrinsically biased against certain groups, and a tool of the vain.  You be you, though, and don't let me stop you. However, there is a wild card in all of this: The recent court ruling prohibiting the University of California system from even using--let alone requiring--the SAT or ACT in admissions decisions next fall.  If you remember, the Cal State system had already decided to go test blind, and of course community colleges in

Baccalaureate origins of doctoral recipients

Here's a little data for you: 61 years of it, to be precise.  The National Science Foundation publishes its data on US doctoral recipients sliced a variety of ways, including some non-restricted public use files that are aggregated at a high level to protect privacy. The interface is a little quirky, and if you're doing large sets, you need to break it into pieces (this was three extracts of about 20 years each), but it may be worth your time to dive in. I merged the data set with my mega table of IPEDS data, which allows you to look at institutions on a more granular level:  It's not surprising to find that University of Washington graduates have earned more degrees than graduates of Whitman College, for instance.  So, you can filter the data by Carnegie type, region or state, or control, for instance; or you can look at all 61 years, or any range of years between 1958 and 2018 and combine it with broad or specific academic fields using the controls. High school and indep

2018 Admissions Data

This is always a popular post, it seems, and I've had a couple of people already ask when it was going to be out.  Wait no more. This is IPEDS 2018 admissions data, visualized for you in two different ways.  You can switch using the tabs across the top. The first view is the universe of colleges and universities that report data; not every college is required to, and a few leave data out, and test optional colleges are not supposed to report test scores.  But IPEDS is not perfect, so if you find any problems, contact the college. On the first view, you'll see 1,359 four-year private and public, not-for-profit institutions displayed.  In order to make this as clean as possible, I've taken out some specialty schools (nursing, business, engineering, etc.) as many of those don't have complete data.  But you can put them back in using the filter at top right. Hover over any bar, and a little chart pops up showing undergraduate enrollment by ethnicity. You can also