California State University, Fresno explores retention and survey data



California State University, Fresno is a public, comprehensive university. To report on graduation and retention rates, the university creates a data book containing student enrollment numbers and demographic profiles. The book—originally delivered in PDF and Excel files—took the entire office to complete, including the director. To increase effectiveness and transparency, the university adopted Tableau.

With Tableau, California State University, Fresno saves time and resources. Today, one analyst completes their data book—an effort that used to take the entire office. The Office of Institutional Effectiveness publishes the data book to Tableau Server, giving leaders fast access to graduation and retention data.

In video 2, Dmitri Rogulkin, Associate Director for the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, shares how the university brings Qualtrics survey data into Tableau using the Web Data Connector. In Tableau, university staff can filter survey data by demographic profiles and other factors. As a result, users like Dmitri spend more time exploring the needs of the university and less time crunching numbers.


Improving graduation and retention rates

Tableau: Has Tableau impacted you personally?
Dmitri Rogulkin, Associate Director for the Office of Institutional Effectiveness: I love Tableau. It makes my life easier. It saved a lot of time, a lot of resources. I love my job. And I go to my job every day very excited about new things I learn, about new things I do. And since I do like to help people, Tableau is the tool, the solution that helps me to do that.

Tableau: What is the most popular Tableau workbook at the university?
Dmitri: So one of the most popular or one of the most used dashboards is graduation and retention data. So graduation is a big topic on campus.

Using the dashboard, they can see the baseline for graduation rate, and they can see how they progress towards the goal. And there was overwhelming support and encouragement to pursue this way. People were wowed!

Tableau: How did you share this information before Tableau?
Dmitri: So every year, at the end of the fall semester, we produce tables of data about students: number of students enrolled, number of students applied, various demographic profiles, social demographics, demographic breakdowns, retention and graduation rates, cost data such as pass rate, grade distribution.

The resources that were used in the past to produce a data book, it would take the whole office, including the director. This time, it was done all by one person, just refreshing button on the Tableau interface.

Tableau: Has this changed over time?
Dmitri: So the way we were sharing our data book with end users on campus used to be the PDF version of tables and Excel spreadsheets. With Tableau Desktop, we produce everything in Tableau and, again, we [originally] had to PDF it and post it online.

Tableau: How did Tableau Server change your processes?
Dmitri: So one of the advantages or one of the values that Tableau Server installation brought to, in particular, to our office is it released our time. So now, the dashboard—such as the data book that we publish to our website—is almost completely automated. So we don't have to spend time on crunching the numbers, and we have more time to talk to the people.

Tableau: Does that extend to other areas of the university?
Dmitri: Using interactive dashboards online, our deans and chairs have access to that information. They can see how many total students [they may have] in that particular group who are ready to graduate. They can identify those students by name and e-mail information, and they can contact them.

We are using it to communicate data and information to our end users, to our faculty, staff, and administrators. So here we have Tableau as the tool that facilitates that communication process.

I love Tableau. It makes my life easier. It saved a lot of time, a lot of resources. I love my job. And I go to my job every day very excited about new things I learn, about new things I do. And since I do like to help people, Tableau is the solution that helps me to do that.

Bringing Qualtrics survey data to life in Tableau

Tableau: What types of data do you analyze?
Dmitri: A lot of data comes from surveys on our campus, students regularly surveyed by all different departments and units and divisions. And we use Qualtrics as a campus-wide solution to administer surveys.

The dashboards that we're using with the survey data allows users to explore and filter survey items based on various demographic profiles. So it's very easy to see all the responses just for female or male students, or all the responses for white female students.

So the dashboard format is a very efficient and effective way to communicate survey data. To share insights at the presentations, at the meetings. It’s very quick, and it's very easy to produce, too.

Tableau: Is it easier to analyze Qualtrics data now that you have Tableau?
Dmitri: So we are excited, because anything that can be automated, anything that can be just on the fly, makes our life easier. So since we do use Qualtrics a lot and we have a huge database of Qualtrics data, it will now be quicker to produce dashboards.

The dashboards that we're using with the survey data allows users to explore and filter survey items based on various demographic profiles. The dashboard format is a very efficient and effective way to communicate survey data—to share insights at the presentations, at the meetings. It’s very quick, and it's very easy to produce, too.

Tableau: Who builds these dashboards?
Dmitri: We encourage end users, or what we call "power users," to start building dashboard themselves. They have their own data sources, and now there is a tool that can effectively and efficiently help them to build their own analytics and share it.
They're familiar—such as department chairs or college deans—they’re familiar with their own problems and their situations. And they have access to that information, and they tend to start exploring and work in-depth. And it makes a difference.

Tableau: How has Tableau impacted your day-to-day work?
Dmitri: It simplified my life to such extent that it became a daily product and a tool that I'm using consistently. And because of it, I have a lot of time to do other stuff, such as meet people, talk to them, explore their needs, and come back with dashboards or analytics that they really need.

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