09-10-2016 21:45 PM
We hear plenty about the benefits of academic dashboards but the high cost of many offerings leave small institutions struggling to find a solution. The campus I am associated with was no different. In looking for a method to deploy dashboards and with the understanding of current budgetary constraints we looked at what we already had. Microsoft Office with SharePoint was used across campus and offered the tools needed. With that in mind we decided the most economical route would be to use Excel Power Pivot in SharePoint. Reports created were informative, but access in SharePoint was limited to on-campus or VPN. This presented an extra step for users and limited the usefulness of the reports. With the release of Power BI and the ability to use the same data models developed in Excel Power Pivot, it offered a robust solution that allowed dashboards on a small budget.
A dashboard in Power BI is based on tiles. These represent specific KPIs or key graphs presented in an intuitive fashion as hyperlinked visuals. Our example illustrated has 34 tiles - each linked to an underlying page.
Following are some examples of the underlying reports.
Acceptance Rate and Yield (Registered students divided by Accepted students)
Select by year, school, campus, degree, faith, and race/ethnicity
Student to Instructor Ratios
Selection is available down to the department level. Animated graph traces a ten year average of students per class. Box plots provide additional metrics.
Graduation and Completion Rates
Both graduation rate (on time completion) and overall completion (all time) are available for every program on campus
A wide variety of student demographics and trends are available. You can select by school, campus, academic level, and term
Power BI can also be used for basic reports such as faculty listings and lookups:
Listing by name, grouped by school and department – adding filters such as year selection limits listings to that year. You can select by school, employer and pay status.
Additionally, creating a page to search faculty by last initial narrows search and selected faculty displays respective school, department, when they started, and end date of appointment.
While these reports are secure and private, a public facing dashboard is available.
By leveraging the data models created in Excel Power Pivot, through Power BI, we have been able to create dashboards that are informative, visually appealing, and at very low cost.
The author is the Associate Director of the Office of Educational Effectiveness and the Institutional Researcher at Loma Linda University, a non-profit health sciences university with an annual enrollment of about 5,000 students. The campus is located in Loma Linda, CA. Comments and suggestions are welcome and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.