Data wrangling with Tableau

The first hands-on assignment for the Data, Analytics and Learning MOOC was designed to give us some experience with using the Tableau software package to analyse and visualise data. It was a straightforward process to download and install the software, then it was time to find some data to analyse. I decided to use the data about overseas students who had come to study in Australia, for the period 2004-1013, from the Australian Higher Education Statistics. Before I could import the data into Tableau, I had to do a bit of cleanup on it. I had to combine the data from each year into a single spreadsheet, and I also had to delete countries which were not listed in the data every year. I wanted to compare the number of students coming from each country to see which countries had grown and which had shrunk. One of the tables had a column for “Country of permanent residence”, so that’s what I used. The source data is limited to countries with more than 20 students, which is why there is variation in the number of countries which are included from year to year.

After a bit of fiddling with the dimensions, measures and table calculations, I managed to produce the map I was after.

Overseas students mapIn order to create the map, I used the “Table Calculation” function to calculate the percentage difference between 2004 and 2013. This produced a map for each year, so I used the “Hide” command to hide the results for every year except 2013, and bingo – I had my map.

All in all I found working with Tableau fairly straightforward, although I did find it took a bit of trial and error to produce the analysis I was after. However, the aim of the assignment (and DALMOOC in general) wasn’t to turn us into Tableau experts, but to expose us to some of the tools which can be used for data analysis and visualisation. I now have enough of an idea of how Tableau works to be able to consider how I can use it in the future. It will be interesting to see how my introduction to Tableau compares to the other software packages that we’ll use over the next few weeks.

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About Andrew

I'm a health librarian in Sydney, Australia, who also happens to be a geocacher.

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