Given Meaning: Centering the Work of Data Visualization in Instruction


This presentation will focus on the relationship between data visualization and the production of meaning. The panelists will address teaching data visualization skills, especially to undergraduate students, in ways that center literacy, representation, design, aesthetics and critical approaches rather than exclusively focusing on specific technologies and tools.

Amy Sonnichsen will discuss how visualization was the combinative factor in centering a course on community and interdisciplinary scholarship. She will share the instructional outcomes that emerged in the classroom through the focus on methods for making meaning and visual connections between data and disciplines.

Andy Rutkowski will explain the concept of “writing with technology” in the context of a freshman writing course. He will focus on the importance of making space and time in the creation and interpretation of visualizations and how the process of visualizing data is sometimes more important than the end results.

Justin Joque will focus on the work of French cartographer Jacques Bertin, especially from his 1960s text The Semiology of Graphics. This work provides an enduring foundation from which to understand visualization. This presentation will provide a critical overview of core concepts and suggest its continued relevance to understanding and teaching data visualization.

Ryan Clement will explore teaching novices (e.g. new librarians, first-year undergrads, unfamiliar faculty) about data visualization as a form of communicating. Drawing from recent research and work, he will address the particular challenges and solutions in working with novices, and how this can complement/challenge the ‘in-class’ lessons from faculty.

This work grows out of the IMLS funded “Visualizing the Future” grant (RE-73-18-0059-18) designed to develop a literacy-based instructional and research agenda for library and information professionals advancing data visualization instruction and use beyond hands-on, technology-based tutorials toward a nuanced, critical understanding. All four panelists are currently working on the grant project.

May 18, 2021 12:00 AM
Ryan Clement
Ryan Clement
Data Services Librarian

I help students, faculty, and staff find, use, and visualize data and other information. My research interests include information and data literacy, data visualization, library assessment, and user experience/service design.