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The Potential of Alluvial Diagrams for Advancing Educational Research

by Bradley W. Davis & Erin Anderson - July 02, 2020

Background/Context: From policy makers to parents, stakeholders in education come from a wide variety of preparatory and experiential backgrounds. These potential consumers of research are often inundated with information while short on time. Therefore, it is necessary to consider novel means of conveying research.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: The purpose of this article is to illustrate the potential for alluvial diagrams to expand the impact and accessibility of educational research.

Research Design: We provide two illustrative examples using different units of analysis and treatments of time. In the first example, educator turnover is measured at the level of individual teachers, and time is measured in years after start of career. For our second example, school accountability ratings are measured at the campus level, and time is measured in academic years. Within each example, we demonstrate alluvial diagramming’s capacity to explore education policy.

Conclusions/Recommendations: We conclude our article by discussing additional, potential applications of alluvial diagrams, as well as the implications for increased use of the technique in educational research. Alluvial diagrams leverage visual learning by succinctly conveying a large amount of information and emphasizing trends in these data through appealing data visualization.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: July 02, 2020
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 23356, Date Accessed: 1/19/2021 7:38:59 PM

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About the Author
  • Bradley Davis
    University of Houston
    E-mail Author
    BRADLEY W. DAVIS, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies at the University of Houston. His research interests include educator career outcomes, leadership preparation, educational law, and education policy. Dr. Davis’s recent publications include: Davis, B. W., & Bowers, A. J. (2019). Examining the career pathways of educators with superintendent certification. Educational Administration Quarterly, 55(1), 3–41; and Davis, B. W., Gooden, M. A., & Bowers, A. J. (2017). Pathways to the principalship: An event history analysis of the careers of teachers with principal certification. American Educational Research Journal, 54(2), 207–240.
  • Erin Anderson
    University of Denver
    E-mail Author
    ERIN ANDERSON, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies at the University of Denver. Her research focuses on policy and standards for principal preparation, as well as planning, leading, and implementing continuous school improvement. Dr. Anderson’s recent publications include: Anderson, E., & Young, M. D. (2018, October 9). If they knew then what we know now, why haven’t things changed? An examination of district effectiveness research. Frontiers in Education. doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2018.00087; and Anderson, E., Winn, K. M., Groth, C., Korach, S., Pounder, D., Rorrer, A., & Young, M. D. (2017). Examining university leadership preparation: An analysis of program attributes and practices. Journal of Research on Leadership Education, 13(4), 375–397. doi:10.1177/1942775117735873
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