This article is part of an occasional series that features statistical data about the university that is available to the FIU community through accountability.fiu.edu.
One out of every eight people who earned an undergraduate degree from FIU in 2015-2016 majored in psychology. While many folks might find that surprising, psychology professor Timothy Allen says it makes perfect sense.
“Psychology is the study of human thoughts, feelings, behavior, emotions. It’s a great foundation for anything you get into in the future. It’s one of those degrees that can apply to any field,” whether business, clinical work or even the hard sciences, Allen explains. “Psychology is the intersection of technology and the liberal arts,” he adds, in a paraphrase of a quote from Apple founder Steve Jobs. “If you want to take high-tech STEM stuff to the next level, you want to have a psychology background.”
The information that 1,202 individuals graduated with a bachelor of arts in psychology during the last academic year can be found at accountability.fiu.edu. The website is a repository for vast amounts of statistical data related to the university. Employees have access with their FIU credentials.
The site was built by the Office of Analysis and Information Management (AIM) and pulls from sources such as enrollment services, HR and financial databases, PantherSoft Campus Solutions, Board of Governors files and others. The data is updated daily and arranged within easy-to-use “dashboards” that provide at-a-glance views of metrics such as admissions, enrollment, the university’s progress toward the BeyondPossible2020 strategic plan goals, student demographics and faculty/staff information. New dashboards will be added as requests are made by users.
Information at one’s fingertips
Unveiled last year, the website supports transparency within the institution as part of FIU’s focus on accountability and gives employees a tool to help them make better, more strategic decisions for the university and its students. Offering both real-time and historical data going back five years, the site provides answers to immediate questions and shows trends that can be used to, for example, prepare proposals and make presentations to members of the executive team.
Whereas “before you had to wait until the end of the year for a snapshot,” says Hiselgis Perez, director of AIM, now “we’re liberating waves of data. We’ve created a product that helps make your life easier so that you don’t have to scramble.”
Perez encourages administrators in particular to take advantage of the site to understand year-over-year changes as well as gauge current progress toward unit goals. Not having a handle on pertinent figures is not acceptable, she says. “As part of your responsibilities, it’s important that you’re informed.”
To help make best use of the data, customized reports can be generated to fit the needs of individual departments, colleges and divisions. AIM staff can assist in creating tailored queries. Simply exploring the website—data is “view-only” and cannot be manipulated or deleted—is an excellent way for users to understand basic functions. AIM also periodically offers training sessions.
A look at popular majors
A quick view of the student metrics dashboard reveals that FIU students’ majors loosely reflect national trends but do not match exactly. For example, whereas psychology is the most popular major at FIU, business administration and management is number one across the United States, with psychology coming in number two. Biology, criminal justice and nursing are in the top 10, both nationally and at FIU.
Data about majors found at accountability.fiu.edu can be used, for example, to help make the case for hiring additional faculty in a particular department or to ramp up advisors in a particular college. It also speaks more broadly to how FIU is responding to workforce needs.
In 2015-2016, FIU conferred 9,660 bachelor’s degrees. The following chart shows the number of students who graduated during the 2015-2016 academic year from FIU’s most popular undergraduate degree programs.
Click on chart to enlarge. Source: FIU Office of Analysis and Information Management