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Week4: At Top Colleges, an Admissions Gap for Minorities
09-17-2014, 11:17 PM (This post was last modified: 09-17-2014 11:24 PM by citou.)
Post: #1
Week4: At Top Colleges, an Admissions Gap for Minorities
The link is below:
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/...s-gap.html

The visualization shows different admission rates of minorities using scatterplot. Color is used to distinguish different leveled colleges, universities including elite colleges like Harvard, Yale UCBerkely and so on, common colleges like some state universities and community colleges with very low graduation rates.

Four graphs are used totally to show three minorities: Black, Hispanics and Asians. You can use 'NEXT' button at the right top to see the graph from one to another. The x axis represents the graduation rate of colleges and the y represents the percentage of 2011-12 freshmen of one specific minorities. With the rise of freshmen’s percentage, the size of the dot is bigger. Dot color gradually changes from green to red with the change of college graduation rate. The more green the dots, the higher the graduation rate. On the opposite, the reddest color plot has the lowest graduation rate. So we can clearly figure out the trend of each minority at a glance. The interactive is very good, if you want to see the detailed data, just put the mouse on the dot and the name of the college, graduation rate and the certain minority freshmen rate show up.

Although color and density could give us an integral impression, the topic’s focus on 'admission gap' is not clear. There is no global contrast and trend for minorities. Readers need to flip pages to make comparisons. There is a dash line along the x axis in each figure with very light gray color, we don't know what the line is used for. The labling is also not clear. Very few dots are given the name of colleges and I can't figure out the standard of labeling. It looks much like just random. The biggest problem in this visualization is channel abuse. For the x axis, graduation rate has clearly indicated levels of colleges. I don’t think using different color is effective. Further, the size change of dot is not necessary actually. For there are only two attributes, graduation rate and percentage of freshmen, positions of dots and their density have shown the distribution of minorities very clearly. My understanding is, there are too many dots that maybe different colors could give reader an optic relax?

In my view, some extreme dot could be labeled with name and percentage, for example, in the asian graph, Kapiolani Community College with highest percentage of Asian freshmen, Harvard university with highest graduation rate, and UCI with very high Asian percentage in elite colleges could be labeled for their representativeness. Another improvement could do is, initially using a line graph rather than scatterplot to show the integral trend and comparison of minorities.


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09-20-2014, 10:13 AM
Post: #2
RE: Week4: At Top Colleges, an Admissions Gap for Minorities
This is an interesting graphic that visualizes some higher education disparities that have been in the news recently. I agree that it has problems, but for somewhat different reasons than are enumerated in the post.

First, about the data. What exactly does it mean to compare graduation rates at four year and two year colleges? This is very misleading, as the two sorts of institutions are used very differently by students. Someone might intentionally take only two classes at a community college before transferring to the local university; such cases make 2 year college graduation rates pretty meaningless, especially for comparison with institutions from which students typically do not transfer. So, for example, African American students may attend at higher rates schools with relatively low graduation rates but that by itself does not tell us anything about their eventual success at getting a degree. Elite schools certainly enroll these students at rates way below the percentage of that population graduating from high school, but it is tough to understand the scope or dimension of the issue with two and four year colleges mixed together.

Second, about the visualization.
1. You write: "With the rise of freshmen’s percentage, the size of the dot is bigger." I don't see the changing size of the dots; to me they all look the same size. Maybe I'm missing something.
2. You write: "There is a dash line along the x axis in each figure with very light gray color, we don't know what the line is used for." The dotted gray line represents the proportion of students from these groups who graduate from high school; for African American students, most of the dots in the first visualization are below the line, meaning that they enroll in selective colleges at rates far lower than their representation in the population would suggest should be the case. The second visualization puts this in context by including non-selective schools. But, again, there's a problem with this comparison as noted above. At any rate, the dotted line represents a reference point: all things being equal, the dots in all the plots should be distributed similarly around that line.
3. Channel abuse? At first I thought, no, color and location are presenting the same information, and that redundancy contributes to readability. But on reflection I think you have a point. Location is the stronger channel. I don't really see what color adds, and because I didn't expect that redundancy I spent some time trying to figure out what color meant independently of location.
4. You write: "The labling is also not clear. Very few dots are given the name of colleges and I can't figure out the standard of labeling." While only some dots have printed labels, all the dots contain information interactively with the mouse pointer. It is nice to get info on specific schools. But for me there was a weird relation between my pointer and the label (possibly a browser quirk?).
5. You make a good point about the need for a global contrast, possibly through the use of a line graph presenting averages for groups. That could set an effective context for these more detailed graphs.

Jeff
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09-20-2014, 08:32 PM
Post: #3
RE: Week4: At Top Colleges, an Admissions Gap for Minorities
I think this visualization is very interesting, but seems to be kind of disjoint. I don't think that the graphs were meant to be compared with each other. I agree with most of the critique, but I had a few more issues with the visualization. I agree that the color makes the graduation rate very clear, but I feel like it was repetitive. The color directly correlates to one of the values on the axes. The previous review was correct, that the dot size doesn't change. I thought the dashed line's purpose was clear, but it seemed unnecessary. I thought the labeling was clear, but it could have used same more names of the colleges like you said. I like your idea of labeling some of the schools with the highest rates differently. I also think that comparing 2-year and 4-year colleges wasn't a good idea. Like the previous review said, same students go to 2-year colleges and then transfer to 4-year colleges.
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09-20-2014, 09:30 PM
Post: #4
RE: Week4: At Top Colleges, an Admissions Gap for Minorities
First I need to say I like the interactivity of the chart. By clicking "next" and moving mouse along the dots, I could easily see a change between different races, and the information of each university. However, I do agree that the labeling of the universities on the chart is kind of random. The dashed lines along the x axis on each chart should be the rates of public high school graduates. I can see that from the first enlarged chart for blacks. However this information is also not clear. And last, I don't know why the blacks have two charts while the other two have only one for each...
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09-21-2014, 12:15 AM (This post was last modified: 09-21-2014 12:30 AM by yaoyao.)
Post: #5
RE: Week4: At Top Colleges, an Admissions Gap for Minorities
(09-20-2014 10:13 AM)Jeff Webb Wrote:  First, about the data. What exactly does it mean to compare graduation rates at four year and two year colleges? This is very misleading, as the two sorts of institutions are used very differently by students.
I totally agree with you about the data part. The graduation rate did make some confused. However, the designer of the visualization can't control the data. The designer gave us the source of the data at the end of the graph so anyone who has questions about the data, they can go and dig for details. I think that should be treated as a basic rule of visualization: always present the original data with your visualization.

(09-20-2014 10:13 AM)Jeff Webb Wrote:  1. You write: "With the rise of freshmen’s percentage, the size of the dot is bigger." I don't see the changing size of the dots; to me they all look the same size. Maybe I'm missing something.
If you go to the second page and focus on the red dots, you will find it's very clear that the dots are getting larger as the percentage is increasing.
(09-20-2014 10:13 AM)Jeff Webb Wrote:  3. Channel abuse?
Agree. This vis is a large graph with a lot of data. If we only use one color,this vis may become pretty boring. As a graph for a 4-page news, it's good to use some colors to make it attractive.
(09-20-2014 10:13 AM)Jeff Webb Wrote:  While only some dots have printed labels, all the dots contain information interactively with the mouse pointer. It is nice to get info on specific schools.
Mine works fine. And I also noticed when the mouse roll over, it will add a black stroke to the dot. I think that's pretty efficient since there are so many dots so sometimes you even don't know which one you're pointing at. I don't know why they choose these specific schools. There is no pattern. If we treat this vis as a represent tool for the article which is "In California, Push for College Diversity Starts Earlier", the designer should choose some california schools instead.

Some other thoughts:
1. NO BOUNDARY GRAPH: this vis has no clear boundary between the labels and titles. The pro is it makes the graph neat and fashioned. However, you will feel weird to see some data points suddenly appear near the legends (eg. the howard university at the second page).
2. Only next but no previous button??: I have to click the page number to move to the previous graph. I don't know why the designer make it as this. Any thoughts?
3. Animation: I like the animation during the pages. If I'm interested in a certain school I can follow that dot from the first page to the end. (Kind of hard but still worth to try).
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09-21-2014, 05:42 PM
Post: #6
RE: Week4: At Top Colleges, an Admissions Gap for Minorities
1) I agree with Nicki that the color feels redundant - its just encoding what information is already in the axes. Admittedly, a uni-color graph might have made the visualization boring, but I think color might have been useful to encode some other information - for example, perhaps the size of a college, or how the minority's graduation rate compares to the overall graduation rate at that college (with green meaning outperforming mean, and red being underperforming).

2) As stated earlier in the thread, group wise averages would have been instructive; I think the right visualization might also have brought out which colleges specifically encourage minorities, as opposed to ones which just have high graduation rate in general.
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09-21-2014, 08:07 PM
Post: #7
RE: Week4: At Top Colleges, an Admissions Gap for Minorities
When I first looked at this chart I think I spent about a minute or two trying to figure out what the color was supposed to represent. I kept looking for a legend of some kind to fill me in before realizing that it was representing the same thing as the graduation rate. I didn't even realize that the size of the data points were changing with the percentage of black/hispanic/asian. I think it was cool that the designer of this visualization used two channels for each of his dimensions, but it definitely needed to be shown with some kind of legend.
As others have pointed out making comparisons between the different data sets is difficult. Putting all the data on one graph and using different colors for each would be one option, but I think the graph would be too busy. Probably the best option would be to have the multiple graphs side by side with a zoom in option to allow each one to be viewed separately.
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09-21-2014, 08:33 PM
Post: #8
RE: Week4: At Top Colleges, an Admissions Gap for Minorities
This is an interesting visualization since it reflects the gap between different minorities to go to colleges of different graduation rates. The visualization is easy to use and recognize for me and it is easy to get the information one want visually. I like this visualization though there are some flaws on it as the criticizer mentioned in the critique, such as the admission gap which is supposed to be the main topic of the visualization is not so clear. I agree most of the points in the critique except that some extreme dot could be labeled with name and percentage, which in my mind will add some unnecessary and redundant information to the visualization.
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09-21-2014, 10:00 PM
Post: #9
RE: Week4: At Top Colleges, an Admissions Gap for Minorities
I like this visualization in the vertical motion of dots when you select different minorities. Using motion channel of the dots can make us easily see the change of a particular college between different minorities. The visualization only label some random dots with the college name. I think it is because the author maybe only want to give us a general impression of the admission gap of minorities. However, I do agree that we can label some extreme dots in this graph. Another thing I don't like about this graph is that they use both position and color channel to represent the same attribute (i.e. the graduation rate). Besides the redundant of using 2 channels, the color channel may also confuse people, since they already see the position as the representation of graduation rate.
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09-21-2014, 11:00 PM
Post: #10
RE: Week4: At Top Colleges, an Admissions Gap for Minorities
There is one serious flaw that I noticed right away. As someone who attended a community college I can attest that graduation rates are highly misleading, since people take classes at community colleges for all sorts of reasons that don't involve getting any type of degree (evening pottery classes, for example). I myself didn't graduate because I went off to university before finishing all the class requirements for a 2-year Associates degree. Many students will start out at a CC because they are much less expensive and you can get your general education requirements out of the way (at least this is how it is in California). After two years at CC you transfer to a university. How many students left their CC (without graduating) and went to a university? It's more instructive to know what percentage of each minority ended up graduating with a 4 year degree, and compare that to the average.

Although the percentage was given for graduating high schoolers for black and asian, they left off that detail for hispanics. They do show a dotted line in the chart, so I guess that represents the percentage (~17 percent?).

I generally agree that the visualization was very nice. I like the color, the transition animation, and the black outline when hovering over a data point. I would like a zoom feature and then when the data density is low enough all the dots can be labeled. Having a filter would also be nice where we can enter various criteria. This visualization has good potential to be fully interactive.
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