Entry 12Why and when do Students change Majors?
Zhimin Li, Alexander Lex — University of Utah

Our visualization is an interactive combination of Parallel Sets and Mosaic Plots. The most important data ­ the subject areas and whether students leave or stay ­ are shown as blocks, arranged in columns in the visualization. Gender is shown as horizontal partitions of the blocks, the ACT Interest­Major Fit Index is used to partitions the blocks vertically, resulting in a mosaic plot. On the far right, a column on ACT Composite scores shows general academic ability.

We chose an interactive visualization technique, as the simultaneous display of all data results in overwhelming visual clutter. We also aggregated the majors into subject areas, to further reduce clutter. While the proportions of students across all variables is evident from the static picture, investigating the flow of students requires interaction. A user can choose to highlight a major, which reveals the flow of students across the years, with intermediate blocks showing whether they stay or leave. The flow of students that remains within the major is highlighted in blue, the leaving students are highlighted in red.

The interactive, web­based tool is available at http://keivnlee.github.io/dataviscontest/
The source code can be downloaded from https://github.com/keivnlee/dataviscontest

The selected image shows the Health Science & Technology major,which is interesting because it contains the largest change of students between their planned major and the declared major in the first year, with more than half changing the subject. While students in all major­fit categories leave the subject, we see a slightly larger proportion of students with bad fit leave the major. The main benefactor in the first year is science and math, with more than half of those changing their minds going into this area. We also see that of those choosing a science major, the majority are male, while females more commonly choose education services.

Zhimin Li,​University of Utah, zhimin.li@utah.edu
1268 S Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84102

Alexander Lex,​University of Utah, alex@sci.utah.edu
72 S Central Campus Dr,​Salt Lake City, Utah 84112