Entry 2College Heat
Miriam Perkins — University of Massachusetts, Lowell

This set of three interactive, linked visualizations enables quick and easy identification of distinguishing characteristics of student ‘interest-major fit’ cohorts. The fit categories include the three identified by ACT index cut points (Good, Moderate, Poor) and a fourth (Excellent) defined by us as students whose indicated or declared major is an exact match with their best-fit major. They are shown at the three time points.

The heat map displays the cohort make-up relative to the overall student population, in terms of the provided data elements. One can see that ACT scores consistently decline when moving from the Good fit category to Moderate, to Poor. This correlation might be anticipated – but counter to this trend, the Excellent fit category has below-average ACT scores! Looking at what other attributes stand out for the Excellent cohort, we see there is a high proportion of Business and Education majors, a low proportion of majors in engineering and the sciences, and fewer male students. Although the Excellent cohort is proportionally high in the Health Sci & Technology major at the first time point, its students flow out of that major after they arrive at college.

The box-and-whiskers plot shows the composition of each data category. One can see that high ACT scores (33-36) fall below the first quartile of the score distribution, even when they are proportionately high within a cohort. The table at the top of the display can be used to select combinations of the data and highlight corresponding records in the other two visualizations. By filtering on a particular cohort in the table, we can see its outlier characteristics at a glance in the box-and-whiskers plot. By filtering on the number of students, we can see areas of population density in the heat map.

Miriam Perkins
University of Massachusetts, Lowell, 1 University Ave, Lowell, MA 01854