Visualizing Retention with Qlik Sense

Iryna Johnson
Associate Director for Analytics, Institutional Research
Auburn University

Institutional retention and graduation rates are frequently presented in static reports with aggregate data for the entire student population. Yet there are numerous analytic advantages of interactive reports and disaggregated data for retention. For example, many schools look at retention rates by race/ethnic group or by gender. By looking at these data among even smaller subpopulations (such as gender and ethnic groups by department, by residency, or by Pell recipient status), one can uncover important nuances and subpopulations that are at risk of failing. Interactive retention reports also help debunk some popular beliefs. For example, changing majors midway through college is thought to have negative effects on student success. However, nuanced data show that the effect of change of department is actually positive, partially due to the fact that a student stayed in college long enough to transfer to another department or college. Knowing these nuances might help us better understand student retention.

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The main challenge of disaggregating retention reports to college or department levels is associated with a possibility of several changes in one’s department or college. Some students change departments multiple times before they graduate with a Bachelor’s degree. The approach suggested here is to limit the analysis to the first and the last department of record. The first department is the department at matriculation. The last department is the department of a student’s first undergraduate degree or the last department of enrollment.

When you make selections in Qlik filter pane lists of colleges or departments, the selected values go green, the remaining options (or options that are not excluded by your selection) go white, and the excluded options turn gray. This provides users with an opportunity to see the list of departments or colleges that students transfer to and from when a certain first or last college or department is chosen. Selections can be also made on the graphs by gender, ethnigity, Pell grant status, and residency. 

 

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