The Data & Visualization Services department is available to support undergraduate and graduate-level courses. Below, you can find resources, sample assignments, activity guides, and suggested readings on common data and visualization topics.
Getting started with Data Visualization
Librarians are available to lead instruction sessions on how to create compelling and authoritative data visualizations. This can be a complex skill that requires students to understand best practices for visual communication, how to prepare or access raw data, and how to use specific tools. Below are a few resources that can help introduce students to these core concepts.
How to communicate and tell a story with data
- Sample Activity: The Data Visualization Worksheet guides students through a step-by-step process to develop a data visualization.
- This worksheet includes links to a curated Lynda.com playlist and the Data Visualization Catalogue, an online resource that can help in the selection of the best type of visualization for student goals.
- Recommended Reading: Designing Data Visualizations by Noah Iliinksy & Julie Steele, Chapter 3 “Determine your Goals and Supporting Data”, Chapter 4 “Choose Appropriate Visual Encodings”, Chapter 5 - pg 53 - Specific Graphs, Layouts, and Axis style. Contact the Library for help adding these materials to course reserve.
Tips on selecting and teaching a data visualization tool
You may want to consider selecting a tool based on students’ prior familiarity with data and how much time you can allocate to introducing tools to students. Contact us to discuss best practices for teaching with these tools.
Getting started with Google Sheets and Excel
Learning to navigate spreadsheets using Google Sheets
Before introducing students to using formulas and charts in Excel, assign them a hands-on activity that will get them more comfortable using spreadsheets, along with a curated Lynda.com playlist that goes over the basics of using Excel. Contact DVS if you would like to discuss how to create a Google spreadsheet assignment using embedded gifs.
Assign students an activity guide, like the one above, that walks them through how to use Google Sheets to create bar charts, stacked bar charts, and pie charts. Students can use this activity guide by making a copy of the workbook in their own Google Drive and following the step-by-step instructions. You may also be interested in our resources on how to communicate and tell a story with data.
Creating charts with Excel
Get students started with creating charts in Excel by sharing this Lynda.com curated playlist that goes over how to get started with visualizing data in Excel. You may also be interested in our resources on how to communicate and tell a story with data.
Quick Tip: Because students may have different versions of Excel installed, we recommend asking them to download Microsoft Office 365 through the Office of Information Technology, which will give them access to Excel 2016. Students can check their version of Excel using these instructions.
Getting started with Finding Data
Teaching students how to find raw data is a rigorous research endeavor. We suggest providing students a curated list of data repositories where they can practice searching for data so they can focus on better understanding new and unfamiliar data formats, basic data cleaning techniques, and introductory data visualization or analysis methods. Refer to the NCSU Datasets for Teaching and Learning webpage for help finding accessible data.
Contact us to discuss best practices for teaching students how to work with data.