Deconstruct - Reconstruct a Plot
Abstract:In this assignment, the student: finds a plot published on
swivel.com or ManyEyes; describes the basic message that the plot
creator is trying to convey; critiques the plot (good and bad) using
ideas from Wainer's Dirty dozen and Cleveland's notion of "clear
understanding" and "clear vision"; addresses these criticisms in a new
plot that they create using R; describes what additional data migth
clarify or strengthn the message and finds such data; and makes a new
plot (using R) with this additional data - the data may augment the
original data or replace it.
The student gains practice in the following:
- Evaluate of effectiveness of a plot
- Identify the message in a plot, and
improve the graphic to better present the message
- Express ideas through visualization
- Use basic plotting software to create graphics
- Use common language for describing a plot and its components
Prerequisite material and placement within the course
This assignment can come early in a course. It requires student to
know/use basic plot terminology and introductory material in Cleveland
Graphics software that provides access to "low-level" plotting
elements, such as R.
- Future Link to Student solutions
- Students work in pairs on this assignment so they can
critique each other's ideas of how to improve the plot.
- Students are provided two weeks to complete this
- In the first week, they are to find their partner and the plot
that they will use. Each pair of students works on a different
plot. I have used the course wiki for them to post what they will
work on so that they can avoid conflict.
- Depending on the expectations for how the plot should be improved it
can be used in a lower division undergraduate, upper division
undergraduate, and graduate course.
- I have used it once - in spring 08. I plan on continuing to use
it as the students really enjoyed it.
- Some students picked plots that were difficult to improve. The
intermediate deadline give the instructor a chance to assist or
re-direct them to a more accessible plot. Others were stuck in the
minor details and had trouble seeing the big picture. The
intermediate deadline helped identify and correct this problem
Last modified: Sat Jul 12 17:00:47 PDT 2008