The Biology Interactome

About a week ago, department chair, Jason Podrobsky, took me up on my annual offer to visit any department upon invitation. A lively presentation was held in the Science Research Center Building, filled with Biology Department faculty.
Jason started out with a basic question:
How is Biology connected to other units across PSU?  

This was an intriguing topic for me given my blog post last month on complex systems and how we benefit from considering all of the relationships we have within the university.

Using DataMaster, a data warehouse solution used to run reports for strategic decisions and daily operations, and through the support of the Office of Institutional Research and Planning, Jason had mined course data from fall enrollment and the SCH generation by Biology majors for the 2013/2014 academic year.

He created a set of interactive maps to examine student flow and relevant data. In the elaborate diagrams, you will see:
  •  Circles proportional to student FTE for colleges
  •  Number of majors for departments
  •  Lines directly proportional to the strength of the interaction

Take Home Messages interactome-style maps clearly show that Biology serves a large number of majors and plays an important service role at PSU.  They are highly interconnected and several other colleges and units depend heavily on their courses. In addition, because Biology is of central importance to the STEM disciplines, a strong and healthy Biology department is critical to the development and sustainment of the STEM education system at PSU.
I applaud the Biology Department for creating interactive maps to understand how Biology is connected to other units across PSU. With the appropriate data available in DataMaster, and now with Educational Advisory Board Student Success Collaborative tools (described below), departments can also explore these critical questions and use data for strategic decision making and student success.
What does your department’s interactome look like? Where are the connections for your majors and students taking your classes?
The EAB Student Success Collaborative (SSC) is a new tool for PSU.  It combines technology, research, process improvement, and predictive analytics to positively inflect outcomes with at-risk and off-path students. By accessing and analyzing underutilized academic data, we can unlock hidden insights about patterns of student success (and failure). These insights allow advisors, faculty, and retention specialists who sit on the front lines of student engagement to have earlier, more proactive, and more data-driven conversations with at-risk, but savable students. SSC members have access not only to an innovative web-based retention platform, but also to a collection of services—from peer benchmarking to live webinars to national student success summits—designed to facilitate cross-membership learning and maximize the value of participation.

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