Data rarely speaks for itself. Instructor
Dr. Andrew Heiss
773 TNRB
Office hours: Mondays from 10:30–11:30. Sign up for other times here.

E-mail is the best way to get in contact with me—I will respond to all course-related e-mails within 24 hours (really).

September 5–October 24, 2017
6:30–8:45 PM
270 TNRB

By itself, the facts contained in raw data are difficult to understand, and in the absence of beauty and order, it is impossible to understand the truth that the data shows.

In this class, you’ll learn how to use industry-standard graphic and data design techniques to create beautiful, understandable visualizations and uncover truth in data.

Course objectives

By the end of this course, you will become (1) literate in data and graphic design principles, (2) an ethical data communicator, and (3) a collaborative sharer by producing beautiful, powerful, and clear visualizations of your own data. Specifically, you should:

Given these objectives, this course fulfills two of the four learning outcomes for BYU’s Master of Public Administration (MPA) program:

Course materials

You’ll need to get these books—they’re definitely worth keeping for reference, too.

These books are optional—we’ll refer to stuff in them and they’re useful for reference, but they’re not absolutely necessary:

Course policies

Be nice. Be honest. Don’t cheat.

We will also follow the full list of Marriott School and BYU classroom policies.

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

Life at BYU can be complicated and challenging. You might feel overwhelmed, experience anxiety or depression, or struggle with relationships or family responsibilities. Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) provides free, confidential support for students who are struggling with mental health and emotional challenges. The CAPS office is staffed by professional psychologists who are attuned to the needs of all types of college students. Please do not hesitate to contact CAPS for assistance—getting help is a smart and courageous thing to do.

Basic needs security

If you have difficulty affording groceries or accessing sufficient food to eat every day, or if you lack a safe and stable place to live, and you believe this may affect your performance in this course, please contact the Dean of Students for support. Please also consider speaking with your local LDS bishop regarding Church welfare assistance regardless of whether or not you are LDS. Additionally, please talk to me if you are comfortable in doing so. This will enable me to provide any resources that I might possess.

Class conduct and expectations

On the first day of class we came up with rules, expectations, and policies for things like technology in the classroom, attendance, participation, late work, etc.

Assignments and grades

You can find descriptions and instructions of all assignments on the assignments page.

Assignment Points
Weekly memos (8) 80
Homework assignments (8) 80
Redesign 1 30
Redesign 2 30
Redesign 3 30
Rubric draft 40
Rubric test run 40
Final rubric 80
Final project 100


Grade Range
A 93–100%
A− 90–92%
B+ 87–89%
B 83–86%
B− 80–82%
C+ 77–79%
C 73–76%
C− 70–72%
D+ 67–69%
D 63–66%
D− 60–62%
F < 60%


Dinosaurs Velociraptor and Protoceratops locked in a mortal combat, by Raul Martin

Once you have read this entire syllabus and the assignments page, please click here and e-mail me a picture of a dinosaur. For real. Brownie points if you send a picture of a cat or dog dressed as a dinosaur.