Fall 2021  |  PA 5929 Section 001: Data Visualization: Telling Stories with Numbers (25829)

Class Component:
2 Credits
Grading Basis:
Student Option
Instructor Consent:
No Special Consent Required
Instruction Mode:
Completely Online
Class Attributes:
Online Course
Enrollment Requirements:
Graduate Student
Times and Locations:
First Half of Term
09/07/2021 - 10/25/2021
Tue, Thu 04:00PM - 05:15PM
Off Campus
Sat 01:00PM - 04:00PM
Off Campus
Enrollment Status:
Open (40 of 41 seats filled)
Also Offered:
Course Catalog Description:
Tools for communicating quantitative information in an intelligent, effective and persuasive way. Topics covered include 1) writing and speaking about data; 2) data management in Excel in order to prepare data for charting; 3) understanding and ability to deploy core concepts in of design, layout, typography and color to maximize the impact of their data visualizations 4) determining which types of statistical measures are most effective for each type of data and message; 5) determining which types of design to use for communicating quantitative information; and 6) designing graphs and tables that are intelligent and compelling for communicating quantitative information.
Class Notes:
Class will be REMOTE (synchronously online during the scheduled time). http://classinfo.umn.edu/?dorelien+PA5929+Fall2021
Class Description:
The class will have a practical approach, combining discussion and practical exercises. The course is designed to be like a walk-through, starting from collecting and organizing data and ending with advanced graph designs.

The course in the spring will use Excel and Tableau. There will be additional modules available for more advance Excel users and those who want to go beyond the basics in Tableau. I will not teach R as part of the class but will make available the R modules and handouts for students that are interested in learning R.
Learning Objectives:
Learn to make better tables- see example below
Learn to make better figures
Please note that it is possible to audit the course or take the course S/N. I encourage students that are already taking a full load of classes to sign up for this class S/N, that way you can focus on learning the material and not on the letter grade.

4 Problem Sets (each problem set is worth 15% of final grade). The problem sets will be due one week after being assigned and will need to be uploaded to Canvas before the start of class.
If you are satisfied with your grades from the first 3 assignments, you do not have to turn in assignment 4. If you are not, you should turn in assignment 4 and I will drop the lowest of your assignment grades.
1 Final Report (40% of final grade)
Class Format:
Meets twice a week for first half the semester. The majority of class time is spent doing in-class exercises.

Modifications for online mode

The fall 2021 class will be taught online while the two spring semester sessions will be in person. The motivation is to accommodate students who are not able to be vaccinated or who would otherwise have trouble making it to an in-person session of the class.
  • This will be a live synchronous class. All classes will be recorded, and recordings will be posted the next day.
  • During the in-class exercise portion of the class, two break-out rooms will be created. One breakout room is for advanced students who wish to go at their own pace and not follow along with the professor. The second breakout room is a place that students who need extra help can go to quickly get help from the TA and then rejoin the main room.
Past Syllabi:
http://classinfo.umn.edu/syllabi/dorelien_PA5929_Spring2019.pdf (Spring 2019)
Instructor Supplied Information Last Updated:
8 May 2021

ClassInfo Links - Fall 2021 Public Affairs Classes

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