Considerations for Creating Public Data Displays

Creating public data displays is a common practice today. Data displays can be as complex or as simple as you'd like. Several considerations go into designing data displays. Below are a few considerations for institutions exploring publicizing their NSSE results.  

  1. Clearly Define Your Audience: Translating results into accurate, accessible formats for different audiences can be challenging. Different institutional stakeholders may want different data reported. Similarly, different stakeholders may interpret available data visualizations differently.  For example, admissions professionals at colleges and universities may want to highlight results that demonstrate distinct undergraduate experiences to visitors and prospective students. That could include reporting on the variation in engagement by student majors or the results from a self-study to provide insights beyond those provided in the NSSE Institutional Report.  In this case, the readability of a display targeted toward prospective students and families may need to be less complex than a display with the same purpose created for professionals and stakeholders within the institution who are using the data to collaborate across focus areas.  
  2. Consult Contemporary Data & Reporting Standards: Data transparency and privacy go hand in hand. As technology advances our ability to create unique and meaningful data visualizations. Many official entities monitor the data and reporting landscape in the education community to provide guidelines and standards for responsible data use. Below are some suggested resources to guide your thinking around displaying data:  
  3. Interpret Data Responsibly: Responsibly interpreting your results means taking care to both use and communicate the data in the way it is intended.For example, often institutional researchers like to present data in easy-to-understand intervals, like with percentages. However, items such as NSSE’s engagement indicatorsare not intended to be converted to percentages.Each standard NSSE report includes a one-page guide designed to aid in interpreting your results. Researchers may find our psychometric portfolio useful for understanding how to interpret results.

NSSE is committed to helping institutions display their results. We regularly review institutional websites for creative displays that meet basic data representation and interpretation standards. Below are examples to illustrate the varied ways institutions have posted their results. These sites are consistent with NSSE’s policy against rankings and the considerations described in this guide.