M2 Information Design Project Instructions

Paper details:

M2 Information Design Project Instructions
assignment-icons-content.png PROJECT
Project Goals
Use quantitative (numerical) data to create effective data visualizations
Employ data visualizations to support a specific point or argument
Apply principles of design to create a visually appealing, readable document
Employ an effective writing style
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This project asks you to engage with data, present data for a specific audience (your classmates), and practice making effective data visualizations. The project focuses on

the fair, accurate, and ethical use of data
the conventions of writing with numbers and data
how to integrate figures into a document
how to design effective visualizations.
As you will learn in completing this project, numbers don’t speak for themselves, and writing with data requires critical and rhetorical thought, as well as visual design skills. In working on this project, you will engage with different types of visuals, as well as the conventions of writing with data and numbers.

Use the textbook chapter on Visual Design (Ch. 6) to help you design and write about your visuals. Additionally, you may wish to use this Periodic Table of Visualization Methods (Links to an external site.) to explore various types and uses of visuals.

Why Use Visuals?
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 Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Download this short report from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Download this short report from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES)Download this short report from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES)compares the presence of full-time and part-time nurses in public schools. The authors use a line graph and a bar chart to show relationships between data. They also provide the necessary text so that the target audience understands the importance and purpose of these visualizations.

While integrating visuals comes with all the benefits listed above, using visuals also comes with responsibility to use visuals fairly and justly. Visuals reduce people to numbers—to data. And then, by making a visual using some data but not other data, you make some people more significant than others. In other words, visuals represent a choice to emphasize some facts, and, in so doing, deemphasize others. Your visuals must be complete and accurate, but also fair and just. When you create your visuals, you should start with questions like, “Am I representing the data accurately?” and “Am I representing the data fully and in a way that does no harm to anyone?”

To begin, select one of the following data sets from which you will create your data visualizations:

Census Bureau Place of Birth and Poverty Download Census Bureau Place of Birth and Poverty
FBI Crime in the US Download FBI Crime in the US
Pew Trust Global Economic Attitudes Download Pew Trust Global Economic Attitudes
Once you have selected a data set, spend some time with the data. Identify the trends that jump out at you as most significant. Consider who might be interested in the information 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.

After reviewing your selected data set, complete the following:

Decide on the purpose for your report, keeping in mind that you must use the data from your chosen data set to achieve your purpose.
Decide on the audience for your report. (To whom will you be presenting your data?)
Because you can’t visualize all the data in your data set, you will have to make a decision about which data to visualize. (Which data will be most useful in helping you achieve your purpose?)
Create three data visualizations that support your purpose.
Embed your three data visualizations in a one- or two-page report, which communicates/analyzes your purpose for your target audience.
Deliverable 1: The Report

The final product is be a one- or two-page report that embeds all three data visualizations you created into a supporting narrative that communicates/analyzes your chosen data for your target audience, thereby achieving your purpose.

Note: It is up to you to decide who your target audience is for your report.

Deliverable 2: The Reflective Letter

In addition to the visual report, you will compose a short 250- to 500-word reflective analysis that explains your choices and goals, and how the visual report deliverable achieves them. In your letter, explain

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;
what decisions you made to tailor your report to your audience and your purpose; and
how you ensured that your visualizations of the data were fair, accurate, and clear.
Note: The target audience for the reflective letter is me.

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