Singapore Institute of Technology
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Teaching Data Visualisation and Basic Map-Making Skills at a Liberal Arts College

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-09-15, 19:46 authored by Michael Thorsten GastnerMichael Thorsten Gastner

Communicating data has become vital in an increasingly data-dependent society. Because data are often communicated graphically, many colleges and universities are offering courses that teach the principles of data visualisation. In this article, the author reflects on his experience of teaching such a course at a liberal arts college. The course introduced students to the tidyverse suite of packages for the programming language R, including the data visualisation package ggplot2, which implements Wilkinson’s (2005) ‘grammar of graphics’. The packages sf and tmap were used to extend the capabilities of the tidyverse packages for analysing geospatial data and producing thematic maps. This article provides insights into effective teaching strategies, including intended learning outcomes, the core syllabus, pedagogy and assessment. Sample tasks and visualisations are also presented to demonstrate how essential cartographic skills were imparted to students.


Ministry of Education, Singapore, Academic Research Fund Tier 2 (EP2) programme (Award No. MOE-T2EP20221-0007)


Journal/Conference/Book title

Kartografija i Geoinformacije (Cartography and Geoinformation)

Publication date



  • Published

Rights statement

Michael T. Gastner (2023) Teaching Data Visualisation and Basic Map-Making Skills at a Liberal Arts College. Kartografija i Geoinformacije (Cartography and Geoinformation), vol. 22, no. 39, pp. 42–60.

Corresponding author

Michael T. Gastner

Project ID

  • 14612 (R-R22-A405-0003) Designing mobile-friendly cartograms for visualising geospatial data

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