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Data 220: Communicating with Data
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Spring 2022

Data 220: Communicating with Data


Providing evidence to support arguments is a fundamental aspect of good communication. In many settings, the evidence comes in the form of complex and large data collections. This course will examine the challenges of communicating with data and the skills to meet these challenges. Class sessions will explore aspects of visualization and other means to present data in multiple contexts such as articles, presentations, videos, and interactive displays.


Mondays and Wednesdays


Tisch Library, Room 316

Zoom: (See Canvas for password or email Bert if you don't have access to Canvas yet.)

Instructor: Bert Huang,

Office hours: Mondays 4pm–5:30pm and Wednesdays 10:30am–11:50am
Joyce Cummings Center 338b and

Additional Instructors: Abani Patra and Karin Knudson

Teaching Assistant: Yi Lu,

Office hours: Tuesday & Thursday 3pm–4:30pm

Zoom link:

This syllabus is available at

Learning Objectives

Students who complete this course should

Readings and Materials

We will spend much of the semester on data visualization, covering the majority of this book by Clause Wilke (available for free online):


The homework for this class will be a set of five short reviews you will write for pieces of data communication. Your task will be to assess the quality of these articles and videos according to the principles we will study. Details forthcoming.

Final Project

For the final project, you will be responsible for choosing a topic that you will write a report on. The report will need to make an argument that is supported by data. You will also prepare a ~10-minute in-person presentation you will give to the class during one of the last classes of the semester. In both the presentation and the written report, the main criteria for grading is whether you successfully use data to support the points you make.

You will be required to submit a project proposal midway through the semester, and the written report will be due on the last day of class. Details about these will be released soon.

You may optionally work in pairs for the final project.

Tentative Schedule







Wed. 1/19



Online. Class will end at 1pm


Mon. 1/24

Aesthetics and Types of Data

Wilke 1, 2

Online only


Wed. 1/26

Coordinates and Axes

Wilke 3

Online only


Mon. 1/31


Wilke 4 & 19

In person / Hybrid
Review 1 assigned


Wed. 2/2

Directory of Visualization

Wilke 5

In person / hybrid


Mon. 2/7

Visualizing Amounts

Wilke 6


Wed. 2/9

Histograms and Density Plots

Wilke 7

Review 1 due


Mon. 2/14

Cumulative Functions and Quantile plots

Wilke 8


Wed. 2/16

Comparing Distributions

Wilke 9


Wed. 2/23


Wilke 10 & 11

Review 2 due


Thu. 2/24

Visualizing Associated Variables

Wilke 12

Monday on Thursday


Mon. 2/28

Time Series and Trends

Wilke 13 & 14


Wed. 3/2

Geospatial Data

Wilke 15


Mon. 3/7


Wilke 16

Final Project Proposals Due


Wed. 3/9

Principles of Figure Design 1

Wilke 17–22


Mon. 3/14

Principles of Figure Design 2

Wilke 22–26


Wed. 3/16

Telling a Story

Wilke 29

Review 3 due


Mon. 3/28

Paradoxes of Probability

Woodcock, 2017


Wed. 3/30

Case Study: Hazard Communication 1

Abani Patra Guest Lecturing


Mon. 4/4

Case Study: Hazard Communication 2

Abani Patra Guest Lecturing


Wed. 4/6

Case Study: Hazard Communication 3

Communicating Uncertainty, Fischoff and Davis

Abani Patra Guest Lecturing

Review 4 due


Mon. 4/11

Case Study: COVID-19 Dashboards


Wed. 4/13


Wed. 4/20

Case Study: Sports Analytics

Case Study: Weather

Online only


Friday 4/22

Project Presentations

Monday on Friday
Online only


Mon. 4/25

Project Presentations

Online only


Wed. 4/27

Project Presentations

Online only


Mon. 5/2

Project Presentations

Online only

Policies and Resources

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities: Tufts University values the diversity of our students, staff, and faculty and recognizes the important contribution each student makes to our unique community. Tufts is committed to providing equal access and support to all qualified students through the provision of reasonable accommodations so that each student may fully participate in the Tufts experience. If you have a disability that requires reasonable accommodations, please contact the StAAR Center (formerly Student Accessibility Services) at or 617-627-4539 to make an appointment with an accessibility representative to determine appropriate accommodations. Please be aware that accommodations cannot be enacted retroactively, making timeliness a critical aspect for their provision.

Academic Support at the StAAR Center: The StAAR Center (formerly the Academic Resource Center and Student Accessibility Services) offers a variety of resources to all students (both undergraduate and graduate) in the Schools of Arts and Science, Engineering, the SMFA and Fletcher; services are free to all enrolled students. Students may make an appointment to work on any writing-related project or assignment, attend subject tutoring in a variety of disciplines, or meet with an academic coach to hone fundamental academic skills like time management or overcoming procrastination. Students can make an appointment for any of these services by visiting

Student Support, including Mental Health: As a student, there may be times when personal stressors or difficulties interfere with your academic performance or well-being. The Dean of Student Affairs Office offers support and care to undergraduates and graduate students who are experiencing difficulties, and can also aid faculty in their work with students. In addition, through Tufts’ Counseling and Mental Health Services (CMHS) students can access mental health support 24/7, and they can provide information on additional resources. CMHS also provides confidential consultation, brief counseling, and urgent care at no cost for all Tufts undergraduates as well as for graduate students who have paid the student health fee. To make an appointment, call 617-627-3360. Please visit the CMHS website: to learn more about their services and resources.

In-Person Classroom Health and Safety Policy: When physically in person and indoors for this course, you'll be responsible for wearing a mask that covers your mouth and nose. Cloth masks are no longer acceptable. You must wear a disposable 3-ply or high quality KN95 mask. It is imperative that we work together as a community to uphold these standards to help mitigate the risk of spreading the virus. Failure to do so may result in a referral to the Dean of Student Affairs Office. For more information about expectations for the Spring semester, please review COVID Guidelines here.

Sharing Class Materials: This course is designed for everyone to feel comfortable participating in discussion, asking questions, learning, and facilitating the learning of others.  For that atmosphere to be maintained, the recordings of our conversations will only be shared with the enrolled students in the class (not posted publicly), and it is prohibited for any of us who have access to the video to share it outside the course. It is against Tufts policy for anyone to share any content made available in this course including course syllabi, reading materials, problems sets, videos, handouts, and exams, with anyone outside of the course without the express permission of the instructor. This especially includes any posting or sharing of videos or other recordings on publicly accessible websites or forums.  Any such sharing or posting could violate copyright law or law that protects the privacy of student educational records.

Academic Integrity: Tufts holds its students strictly accountable for adherence to academic integrity. The consequences for violations can be severe. It is critical that you understand the requirements of ethical behavior and academic work as described in Tufts’ Academic Integrity handbook. If you ever have a question about the expectations concerning a particular assignment or project in this course, be sure to ask me for clarification. The Faculty of the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering are required to report suspected cases of academic integrity violations to the Dean of Student Affairs Office. If I suspect that you have cheated or plagiarized in this class, I must report the situation to the dean.


The graded work in this course will be homework assignments and a project. There will be no exams or quizzes.

Based on the grading breakdown above, each student's final grade for the course will be determined by the final percentage of points earned. The grade ranges are as follows: A+ (>96.66%), A (93.33%–96.66%), A- (90%–93.33%), B+ (86.66%–90%), B (83.33%–86.66%), B- (80%–83.33%), C+ (76.66%–80%), C (73.33%–76.66%), C- (70%–73.33%),  D (60%–70%), F (<60%).

Final Presentation Schedule

Friday 4/22
Judy Lin
Patrali Ghosh, Daksha Marathe
Runze Wang
Yuting Guo
Zelai Zhang

Monday 4/25
Meijie He
Sam Lazar
Tianhui Liang
Yuchen Tian, Yuze Wu
Thomas Clay Kynor, Dalit Hendel
Haiyao Xu

Wed 4/27
Tingwei Li
Guangyuan Zhu
Yiqing Qiu
Murad Mammadli
Thao Hoang
Brenna Yin, Yijun Yang

Mon 5/2
Sara Olenich
Emily Look
Dan Berkowitz, Nathan Camerlin
Steven Duan
Ting Ye
Yifei Wang