visual project

This project asks you to engage with data, present data for a specific audience, and practice making effective data visualizations. The project focuses on:

  • the fair, accurate, and ethical use of data
  • how to design effective visualizations
  • the conventions of writing with numbers and data
  • how to integrate figures into a document.

Audience and purpose are central to the goal of the final deliverables. As you will learn by completing this project, numbers don’t speak for themselves. Writing with data requires critical and rhetorical thought, as well as visual design skills.

While working on this project, you will engage with different types of visuals, as well as the conventions of writing with data and numbers. To achieve these goals, you will select a data set from those listed below. After reviewing the data set you select, you will decide on an argument (thesis) you want to make for a specific audience using the data provided. You will then make decisions about which data to visualize from the larger data set and you will create three data visualizations help illustrate your argument visually. Finally, you will write about and analyze that data in brief final visual report.

The final visual report you create will include the three visuals you have made and the supporting text necessary to explain the data you have visualized and make your point.

In addition to the visual report, you also will create a second deliverable: a reflective memo of about 250-500 words. Similar to the PAD memo in the first project, this reflective memo will explain your choices and goals and how the visual report deliverable achieves them.

Data visualizations bring a number of benefits to any professional document, even short ones:

  • Though they have become extremely easy to make, people in the workplace still tend to be impressed by the extra effort and thoughtful presentation implicit in making a visualization.
  • Data visualizations also help to make the work of digesting and interpreting data more efficient by displaying trends or illustrating the significance of specific information without poring over page after page of numbers.
  • Because of this efficiency, visual elements are also better at communicating certain ideas more quickly than words or tabular data. Something that may take many sentences to communicate, a sudden drop in the efficiency of a process, or a surge in sales among a certain demographic, are instantly recognizable as spikes or dips along the X axis of a line graph.

For example:

This short report from the Department of Education (Links to an external site.) provides an overview of literacy and numeracy for men and women. In this online short report, the authors created two bar charts that are designed to show relationships between data and then they briefly explain the importance of the data.

In your visual report, you will create three visualizations and integrate them into your report, providing an introduction to the topic and analysis of the data you include to make a point about the topic using your data.

Project 2 Assignment Instructions

For this project, you will select a data set from the ones listed below and create a short (approximately two-page) informational report that includes at least three data visualizations that you create and that you feel best communicates the data you select from your data set in a form that maximizes the impact of the data to suit a specific audience and purpose.

To create your visualizations and informational report, please select one of the following data sets:

Once you have selected a data set, spend some time with the data. Identify the trends that jump out at you as most significant. As you identify your audience, think about who would want to know about the data and the point you’d like to make. You will not be able to visualize or discuss all the data in your data set. Your job is to select and visualize the data that is most relevant to your audience and the point you are making.

Deliverables

Document 1: Visual Report with 3 Data Visualizations

A short, informative, visually interesting report that makes a point about your subject using the data in your data set. This report should incorporate at three visuals that you have created along with analysis of the data in your figures. The text in your report should:

  • introduce the topic and its importance
  • explain the meaning of each of the three visuals
  • point to the conclusions suggested by the data.

You should identify a clear audience. Your understanding of the audience informs how the data is presented, the form the visualizations take, and the point you use the data to make, as well as the overall purpose of the document.

Document 2: Reflective Analysis

A 250-500 word memo that explains the following. Use memo headings to identify each of the topics listed below. Format the memo like a memo.

  • How and why you selected your data set
  • How you selected which data to visualize and why you visualized it in the form you did
  • Who was your target audience and what was your overall goal/purpose
  • How you ensured that your visualizations of the data were fair, accurate, and clear
  • A link to the raw data set used to create the report (with a citation for the data)

Data Visualization Tools

The following tools may be useful in creating your visualizations. There are other tools and apps that you can use, instead. The important thing is to create three original, effective visualizations using the data you have chosen.