User Spotlight: Data Prep for Higher Ed Innovations

Maria Narvaez is the Director of Institutional Planning and Research at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles, California. It is a Catholic liberal arts and sciences school primarily for women with just under 3,000 undergraduate students. The university’s goal is to provide students with superior education and one particular measure of success is their graduation rate. According to College Scorecard, an online service of the U.S. Department of Education, Mount Saint Mary’s University has a 60% graduation rate, which is slightly above the national average.

Like most people working in institutional planning and research, part of Narvaez’s job is to validate data for submission to the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and send those reports to various departments. Narvaez uses Veera Construct in conjunction with Tableau to create enrollment reports every single day of the year. A rock-solid solution for data prep, Narvaez’s department has been successfully using Veera Construct since 2011. “Veera Construct was already being used when I started and I just keep using it every day and seldom encounter issues. When they arise, Rapid Insight’s customer support team is very helpful,” she said.

When Narvaez started at the University in 2016, she easily jumped right into working with the Veera platform.

“I had previously used [IBM’s] Cognos BI. When I started to use Veera Construct, I found it much easier to use and learned it quickly.”
– Maria Narvaez, Director of Institutional Planning and Research, MSMU

Data Prep Organization

Sometimes even the smallest data prep innovation can make a lasting impact.

Narvaez and her two colleagues currently use the software to provide insight into enrollment numbers. In doing this daily task for years, Narvaez noticed that each day’s enrollment numbers would overwrite the previous day’s report. If someone wanted to review the previous day’s enrollment, there was not an easy way to revisit it. If you’re looking to understand and evaluate enrollment from one day to the next, it’s problematic if you don’t have that data available.

Narvaez came up with an innovative solution. She figured out a way to change how the reporting works. With Veera Construct, she built a data prep process that keeps each day’s reporting intact. Rather than overwrite each report, the data progresses. Daily enrollment numbers are saved and keep building on top of the previous day.

This step, though huge in terms of advancement with data prep organization, didn’t take Narvaez very long to create. She came up with the idea and built the solution with Veera Construct rather quickly.
“I think it took me about a day to build and test it,” Narvaez says.

Narvaez and her colleagues are now able to examine trends in their enrollment data. With Veera Construct and Tableau, the reports have changed the way the university can visualize the data. The department’s enrollment information is chronologically stored and with this data, Narvaez and her colleagues can have a better sense of University’s future enrollment expectations.

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