Dashboards and Data Viz | Higher Education

From student performance and enrollment rates to financial reports and program efficiency, higher education involves data and a lot of it. Upon my return from Educause, I realized even more that educators often feel that gathering and deploying this information is somewhat like a mad dash at a back to school sale – unless they have the right reporting system.


At iDashboards, we want to help educators do what they do best: invest in their students. If you’re a higher education professional looking to upgrade your data reporting and efficiency, take the first step by checking out the strategies below.

What Higher Education Metrics Should You Track?

What Higher Education Metrics Should You Track?First things first: Data reporting is all about streamlining, but many institutions lack the time and resources to compile and distribute truly helpful reports. Once these reports get into the right hands, getting users to take the time to use them is a completely different story. To avoid this problem, do a little research and figure out 1) what information is most relevant and useful to your organization or institution, and 2) who needs what reports.

The best way to do this is start with broad categories, broken down by department:

  • Financial data
  • Admissions data
  • Enrollment data
  • Faculty data
  • Engagement data
  • Academic data
#Data reporting is all about streamlining, Click To Tweet

Read next: 5 Reasons Why Dashboards Throw Spreadsheets Out the “Windows”

Refine Your Plan: Creating Drilldowns

In the data-reporting world, a “drilldown” is a report that extrapolates details from a larger data set, or a more detailed look at a general metric. Let’s take a closer look at financial data to understand how drilldowns might look for higher education professionals:

higher education dashboards educause

“Drilling down” the stairs at Educause!

While financial data should include major budgets, net spending, and net tuition rates, your financial department will need more specific information, such as total voluntary giving, the percentage of students who receive financial aid, and the number of alumni who donate to the school. Once this information is delivered in an easy-to-use manner, your financial department can use it to make informed, accurate predictions and decisions.

Admissions data point examples:

  • Admission rates (how many students applied vs. how many were admitted)
  • Students’ average SAT scores
  • How many students were in the top 10% of their high school graduating classes?
  • The average GPA of new students
  • Percentage of transfer students, compared to incoming freshmen
  • How many incoming students are from out of the state?
  • Historical data (how these metrics compare to previous years)

Enrollment data point examples:

  • Total number of enrolled students
  • Number of enrolled students vs. previous years
  • Course enrollment bottlenecks
  • Percentage of retained students / students who dropped out
  • Number of new freshmen
  • Percentage of students in each class (freshman, sophomore, junior, graduating)
  • Special population metrics (percentage of minority students, international, etc.)

Faculty data point examples:

  • How many faculty have terminal degrees?
  • Special population metrics (minority, male/female percentage, etc.)
  • Average compensation for professors, associates, and assistants

Engagement data point examples:

  • Percentage of students with honors
  • How many students live on campus / off campus
  • Percentage of students who employ study-abroad programs
  • How many students participate in student life activities and clubs

Academic data point examples:

  • Average student GPA
  • Ratio of students to faculty members
  • Number of courses and majors offered
  • Percentage of students in each major
  • Number of students with “undeclared” majors
  • Classes with low enrollment / high enrollment
  • Average number of semesters students need to graduate

From Chalkboards to Projectors: Efficient Data Deployment

In our latest customer spotlight, Moore Norman Technology Center shared that ease-of-use was one of the determining factors that led them from color-coded spreadsheets to dashboard reporting. What does this mean for your institution? It means teachers, faculty, administration, and supervisors can access information at any time, in one place with the help of a dashboard reporting system.

Think of it like this: For decades, chalkboards were the primary way teachers and professors shared information with students. Then came whiteboards, a slight improvement in efficiency with more color options. But neither chalkboards nor whiteboards offer the flexibility, transportability, or presentation capabilities that a projector provides. Instead of writing examples longhand, teachers simply connect their laptops to a projector and pull up a PowerPoint or video.

In the same way, dashboards give users what they need when they need it: real-time data at their fingertips. Want to learn more about what other educators are doing? See how the University of North Dakota implemented dashboards to align with their incentive-based strategies.

#Dashboards give users what they need when they need. Click To Tweet

If you like what you’ve read here, spread the word by sharing this post on social media!

Alternative Text

David Donaldson Account Manager @iDashboards

David Donaldson is an Account Manager in charge of customer satisfaction. He’s dedicated to forming quality relationships with our clients to ensure the success and growth of iDashboards. He enjoys watching Annie and teaching his twin boys the highs and lows of life associated with being a Notre Dame fan…..It’s a Hard Knock Life!


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *