Weekly reflection memo

You’ll need to submit a one-page (500 words) reflection memo before midnight each Monday (the day before class). You can do a lot of different things with this memo: discuss something you learned from the readings, write about the best or worst data visualization you saw that week, connect the readings or projects from that week to your own work, etc. These memos essentially let you explore and answer some of the key questions of this course, including:

These memos are also to help me see what you glean from each week’s reading so I can prepare class discussions to be most useful and interesting to you. These memos will only be graded for completion. Instructions for submitting the memo will be in the assignment page for that week.

Homework assignments

Every week, you will have a short homework assignment to give you practice using Excel and R. Instructions for each assignment will be given on the assignment page for that week. As with the reflection memo, homework is due before midnight each Monday.


In order to give you practice with the data and design principles you’ll learn in this class, I will give you three existing data visualizations to redesign.

Visualization rubric

Evaluating data graphics is hard, especially since so much of the work that goes into creating excellent visualizations is subjective. How do you know if a figure follows graphic and data design principles and communicates truth?

Over the course of the term, you will develop your own rubric for evaluating the design, aesthetics, correctness, and truth of data visualizations, based on the readings, assignments, and classroom activities you’ll do. These rubrics can take any form you want, as long as they include some approach for scoring performance and some method for quickly identifying specific areas of improvement. Where possible, try to cite the materials you draw from to create the rubric items.

Draft rubric

Draft rubrics will be due in the middle of the term (conveniently indicated in the course schedule). You’ll get feedback about these drafts from your peers and me, but they will only be graded for completion. I will grade your final rubric according to a rubric I will provide you.

Rubric test run

Before you turn in your final rubric, you’ll need to make sure it actually works. Use your improved draft rubric to evaluate any visualization. You’ll only be graded for completion.

Final project

To evaluate how well you’ve learned the course materials, you will create a visualization based on data I will provide you. I will grade these final graphics according to both your rubric and my own rubric, with equal weight (i.e. your rubric score consists of 50% of the total grade).