Data rarely speaks for itself. Instructor
Dr. Andrew Heiss
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
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.
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:
- Understand the principles of data and graphic design
- Evaluate the credibility, ethics, and aesthetics of data visualizations
- Create well-designed data visualizations with appropriate tools
- Share data and graphics in open forums
- Be curious and confident in consuming and producing data
Given these objectives, this course fulfills two of the four learning outcomes for BYU’s Master of Public Administration (MPA) program:
Quantitative Analysis: BYU MPA graduates are skilled at evaluating programs and policies. They know how to gather data, correctly analyze it, and employ the analysis to recommend policy and programmatic action in public service organizations.
Communications: BYU MPA graduates effectively convey verbal and written information with the polish and professionalism appropriate for the public service context. They listen to and promote understanding among people with diverse viewpoints.
You’ll need to get these books—they’re definitely worth keeping for reference, too.
- Alberto Cairo, The Truthful Art: Data, Charts, and Maps for Communication (Berkeley, California: New Riders, 2016). [$34 used, $40 new at Amazon]
- Stephanie D. H. Evergreen, Effective Data Visualization: The Right Chart for the Right Data (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2017). [$36 used, $45 new at Amazon]
- Dona M. Wong, The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics: The Dos and Don’ts of Presenting Data, Facts, and Figures (London: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010). [$13 used, $18 new at Amazon]
These books are optional—we’ll refer to stuff in them and they’re useful for reference, but they’re not absolutely necessary:
- Hadley Wickham and Garrett Grolemund, R for Data Science: Import, Tidy, Transform, Visualize, and Model Data (Sebastopol, California: O’Reilly Media, 2017). [FREE online; $25 used, $33 new at Amazon]
- Alberto Cairo, The Functional Art: An Introduction to Information Graphics and Visualization (Berkeley, California: New Riders, 2013). [$26 used, $37 new at Amazon]
- Robin Williams, The Non-Designer’s Design & Type Books: Design and Typographic Principles for the Visual Novice, Deluxe Edition. (Berkeley, California: Peachpit Press, 2008). [$15 used at Amazon]
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.
- We decided that laptops and phones won’t be banned (since they’re kind of necessary for the class), and that they can be used responsibly (if you’re dealing with family or other concerns, since we’re an evening class). But you still need to pay attention and participate.
- Late work is acceptable(ish) but discouraged. If you have to miss a lecture, it is your responsibility to catch up. Meet with your classmates or with me to make sure you cover everything you missed.
- Above all, be a responsible adult.
Assignments and grades
You can find descriptions and instructions of all assignments on the assignments page.
|Weekly memos (8)||80|
|Homework assignments (8)||80|
|Rubric test run||40|
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.