In my scenario, students are grouped into classes and each student has a performance metric. I want to be able to show teachers and principals a list of classes, along with an aggregate performance metric for each class.

I don't want to show the mean, because one very high or low performing student skews this. I don't want to show the median, because this basically discards the very high or low performing students entirely, and I want to capture the contribution of these students.

More correct would probably be to show a visualization of the mean with standard deviation, but this would be too sophisticated for many of my users, and it's not a single number that could be used, for instance, to sort the list by "performance".

Is there a better technique for computing aggregate performance into one number that somehow captures the variance of the data set?


1 Answer 1


I am actually a student and in my experience the best visualization for a scenario like this could actually be boxplots. Using these will show the the different quartiles for each class as well as outliers. I would suggest that you create a grid with all the boxplots plotted next to one another. In this way it will be easy to show teachers and parents how different classes performed relative to one another.

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    $\begingroup$ That might work, although I think boxplots are a bit hard on the brain and I'm not sure my audience would find them intuitive. $\endgroup$ Commented May 11, 2020 at 14:22
  • $\begingroup$ The only other option that I can think of are histograms, but I guess those might also not be so intuitive as you would like? $\endgroup$
    – Stochastic
    Commented May 22, 2020 at 19:57

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