University Demographics in Texas

One of the many things I find myself doing at work is looking at enrollment trends at colleges and universities in Texas. Most of this data is pulled from the Accountability System produced by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Anyone has used that system knows that it isn’t the most user-friendly tool. So, one of the first things I did with Tableau was put together a visualization looking at demographic characteristics of students in the state over the past several years. It’s pretty basic, but it does show a picture of how things have changed as enrollment has increased. By default it shows total enrollment at all colleges and universities, but you do have the option of drilling down to an individual institution. The visualization appears after the break…
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Skewed Data and Heat Maps in Tableau

By default Tableau uses a sequential color scheme to display the full range of values (e.g. from white to green) for a measure. But a problem comes up when the data is highly skewed (e.g. when displaying the states that students come from with over 97% being from one state and the next closest value being less than 0.5% of students). The end result of this skew in the data is that the dominate category appears in one color and all the other states show up in the same color. The trick to getting around this is to re-define how the colors are scaled across the distribution. Steps on how to do this and an example of the trick in action is available after the break… (I use a map in the example, but the same principle can be applied to any situation where color shading is used to represent values.)
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Switching between Count and Percent with Parameter in Tableau

In one of the data visualizations I was working on I encountered a situation where I wanted to be able to switch between a display of the headcount and the percentage of people in categories. In researching the issue, I discovered that what I wanted to achieve could be done with the use of a parameter. The trick to get this to work was the use of custom formatting a measure to display positive and negative values differently, and then using a parameter to set the value being displayed.

Continue on to see the steps and an example of the feature in use…

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Welcome to Turner’s Lounge

Hello and welcome to the latest version of my blog. It has served many purposes over the years, but beginning this year I decided to redesign the site and focus on things more “work” related. My goal is to post something at least every other week related to Institutional Research (broadly defined) or tips and tricks for using Tableau. There will also be some posts related to technology from time to time. My guess is that starting out, most of the posts will likely be more focused on Tableau, but the examples I use will probably be related to the work I do in institutional research. The first real post should be available in the next few days.

For now, I’ve limited comments to only registered users in an effort to prevent too much spam from showing up. If you find any of my posts useful or informative, feel free to link to them. And I do welcome your comments and feedback via email even if you choose not to register.

-Marc