Data visualizations have proliferated throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to communicate information about the crisis and influence policy development and individual decision-making. In invoking exponential growth, mathematical modelling, statistical analysis, and the like, these data visualizations invite opportunities for mathematics teaching and learning. Yet data visualizations are social texts, authored from specific points of view, that narrate particular, and often consequential, stories. Their fundamental reliance on quantification and mathematics cements their social positioning as supposedly objective, reliable, and neutral. The reading of any data visualization demands unpacking the role of mathematics, including how data and variables have been formatted and how relationships are framed to narrate stories from particular points of view. We present an approach to a critical reading of data visualizations for the context of mathematics education that draws on three interrelated concepts: mathematical formatting (what gets quantified, measured, and how), framing (how variables are related and through what kind of data visualization), and narrating (which stories the data visualization tells, its potential impacts and limits). This approach to reading data visualisations includes a process of reimagining through reformatting, reframing and renarrating. We illustrate this approach and these three concepts using data visualizations published in the New York Times in 2020 about COVID-19. We offer a set of possible questions to guide a critical reading of data visualizations, beyond this set of examples.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.
© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V. 2021.
- Critical mathematics education
- Critical pedagogy
- Data science education
- Data visualizations
- Graph reading
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Mathematics (all)