Visualizing Information

Due: Oct 04 by 11:59pm

Weight: This assignment is worth 1% of your final grade.

Purpose: The purpose of this assignment is to learn what makes a “good” information visualization, which is not entirely a subjective judgment. There are a wide variety of design principles available to help guide the creation of clear, effective information visualizations, many of which are rooted in research on human psychology.

Assessment: This assignment is graded using a check system:

  • ✔+ (110%): Responses shows phenomenal thought and engagement with the course content. I will not assign these often.
  • ✔ (100%): Responses are thoughtful, well-written, and show engagement with the course content. This is the expected level of performance.
  • ✔− (50%): Responses are hastily composed, too short, and/or only cursorily engages with the course content. This grade signals that you need to improve next time. I will hopefully not assign these often.

Notice that this is essentially a pass/fail system. I’m not grading your writing ability and I’m not counting the number of words you write - I’m looking for thoughtful engagement. One or two sentences is not enough. Write at least a paragraph and show me that you did the readings assigned.

1. Get Organized

Download and edit this template when working through this assignment.

Then unzip the template folder (make sure you unzip it!), then open the .Rproj file to open RStudio. Open the hw5.Rmd file, take notes, and write some example code as you go through the following.

2. Readings / Videos

“Data visualization is part art and part science. The challenge is to get the art right without getting the science wrong and vice versa.”

– Claus O. Wilke in Fundamentals of Data Visualization

Readings on visualizing information

These two chapters cover a lot of excellent examples of what makes a chart “good” and “bad”—the focus of what we’ll talk about in class next week:

Video on the psychology of data viz

Watch this 40-minute video titled “How humans see data”, by John Rauser. He discusses how we can exploit our understanding of human psychology to design effective charts (I’ll cover much of the same information in the video in class next week).

3. Reflect

Reflect on what you’ve learned while going through these readings and exercises. Is there anything that jumped out at you? Anything you found particularly interesting or confusing? Write at least a paragraph in your hw5.Rmd file. Here are some suggestions:

  • Discuss some of the key insights or things you found interesting in the readings or recent class periods.
  • Write about the messiest data you’ve seen.
  • Connect the course content to your own work or project you’re working on.

4. Knit

Click the “knit” button to compile your hw5.Rmd file into a html web page. Then open the hw5.html file in a web browser and proofread your report. Does all of the formatting look correct?

5. Submit

To submit this assignment, create a zip file of all the files in your R project folder for this assignment. Name the zip file, replacing netID with your netID (e.g., Then copy that zip file into the “submissions” folder in your Box folder created for this class.