Cover Image

Professional paper

Teaching Data Visualisation and Basic Map-Making Skills at a Liberal Arts College

Michael T. 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.


pedagogy; grammar of graphics; visualisation software; tidyverse

Full Text:

PDF PDF (Hrvatski)

Copyright (c) 2023 Michael T. Gastner

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

The Kartografija i Geoinformacije (Cartography and Geoinformation) journal publishes scientific and professional papers from cartography and other fields (geography, geodesy, geology, forestry, agronomy, history, architecture, pedagogy ...) if they are related to cartography and geoinformation.
We invite authors of papers or contributions to submit text in English (and Croatian if possible) using this site.

The Croatian Cartographic Society (CCS) does not necessarily endorse any opinions or recommendations made in article, review or extract contained in this journal nor do they necessarily represent CCS policy.
© CCS, Journal content is published under CC BY-SA licence.