CS 725/825 - Information Visualization
Spring 2017: Wednesdays, 9:30am-12:15pm, E&CS 2120

Print - Admin





Assignment Guidelines

CS725 @ GitLab

Paper Presentations

Project - updated


Tableau's data visualization software is provided through the Tableau for Teaching program.

In-Class Work 5 (ICW5)

See http://www.cs.odu.edu/~mweigle/CS725-S17/Guidelines for general information on ICW assignments.

The goal of this assignment is to use Tableau to explore choropleth maps.


In your ICW groups, you will be using Tableau to create several choropleth maps based on US county data. I've written out most of the steps for you to perform along with questions to answer along the way.

Online Students: You should work through these steps on your own and then add your observations to your group's write-up.

Download Data

We are using county-level data from the US Dept of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, specifically from https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/county-level-data-sets/county-level-data-sets-download-data.aspx

  • Download the Population estimates Excel file
  • Download the Educational attainment Excel file

Generate Population Map

Load the Data

  • Load the Population estimates file in Tableau (Connect to Data > Excel)
  • Drag the Population Estimates sheet into the window
  • Turn on the Data Interpreter -- this will automatically set up the table headings
  • Change the FIPS datatype to String
  • Set the Geographic Role on the FIPS column to County

Set up the Map

  • Drag State to Detail in the Marks window
  • Drag FIPS to Detail in the Marks window
  • Drag Area Name to Detail in the Marks window
  • Choose Filled Map from the drop-down box in the Marks window -- this will color all of the counties
  • Drag POP_ESTIMATE_2015 to Color in the Marks window
  • Q1: If the color is based on population, why are all counties shown in the same color?

Filter Data

We want to focus on only the 48 contiguous US states and ignore the state level population data.

  • Drag State to Filters
  • Deselect AK (Alaska), HI (Hawaii), and PR (Puerto Rico)
  • Drag one of the Rural-Urban Continuum Code fields to Filter
  • Set the filter to "At least 1" -- this column is empty for the state level data
  • Q2: Are all of the counties the same color now? Why did this change things?

Fix Missing Data

Finish Up

  • Rename the sheet "Population"
  • Export an image -- do not take a screenshot, but export the image (Worksheet > Export > Image)
  • Q3: What is the county with the highest population? What is its population? Does this make sense?
  • Q4: Name 2 other high population counties. Do these make sense?

Generate Num Bachelor's Degrees Map

Load the Data

  • Duplicate the Population sheet
  • Add New Data Source
  • Choose the Education file
  • Do the same operations with the FIPS field as you did in the Population file

Link the Data Sources (population, education)

  • From the Data menu, choose Edit Relationships
  • Choose Custom
  • Add
  • FIPS and FIPS Code
  • Area_Name and Area name
  • Q5: Why were State and State already automatically linked and the others weren't?

Color the Map

  • Drag Bachelor's degree or higher, 2011-2015 to Color in the Marks window
  • Drag POP_ESTIMATE_2015 from the Population data to Detail in the Marks window
  • Rename the sheet "Num w/Bachelor's"
  • Export an image
  • Q6: Compare this map with the Population map. Are they different? Why or why not?

Generate Percentage Bachelor's Degrees Map

  • Duplicate the Num w/Bachelor's sheet
  • Drag Percent of adults with a bachelor's degree (2011-2015) to Color in the Marks window
  • Q7: Compare this map with the Population map. Are they different? Why or why not?
  • Q8: Compare this map with the Num w/Bachelor's map. Which map gives a better picture of the education level in the county? Why?

Experiment with colors

  • Experiment with the various color maps to highlight the counties that have a high percentage of Bachelor's degrees
    • Click on the Color icon and on Edit Colors
  • Rename the sheet "% w/Bachelor's"
  • Export an image
  • Q9: What did you observe about the different color maps? Which ones were most useful in highlighting extremes?

Data Exploration

  • Use the Quick Filters option to explore the data. Right-click on SUM(Percent... in the Marks window and choose Show Quick Filter
  • Q10: Describe one interesting observation or insight that you made while looking at this data. (Each group member can submit their own observation.)


Create your solution file, username1-username2-username3-ICW5.md, in the ICW5 Gitlab project. Be sure to use Markdown formatting to make your solution file easily readable.

This file should contain images of each of your maps and answers to the questions asked in the task section.

  • To include the images, you'll first need to upload them somewhere. You can either upload the images to your own webspace or put them in the imgs folder in ICW5 on gitlab. Make sure to name them with at least one of your usernames so that you don't conflict with other groups.

This is meant to be an in-class assignment, meaning that most of the work should be done in-class. There should be only a little discussion and write-up left to complete after class.