Lessons for Teaching Data Literacy

Competence in data literacy is an essential skill for success in an increasing number of fields and a key soft skill that employers seek when making hiring decisions. Lessons in the Data Literacy Series can be used by university and school faculty and staff to teach students how to reliably identify, interpret, and communicate data. Each lesson reviews data interpretation, analysis, and/or presentation concepts in detail, and is written in an accessible manner to be used by teachers, instructors, and librarians from any field or background.

Data Methods:

Analyzing the Elements of Real GDP in FRED Using Stacking

This online activity shows how to use FRED, the Federal Reserve's free online economic data website, to analyze changes in real gross domestic product (GDP) and GDP makeup over time. Following simple instructions, you will locate spending data for the individual components of real GDP, and then combine them into a highly informative area graph. You will also use FRED's ability to stack data and see how trade—imports and exports—contributes to GDP. The resulting customized graph will let you see how economic output varies from year to year.

The Composition Effect

Students evaluate unemployment data from different racial and ethnic groups to determine how accurately the national rate of unemployment describes the labor market experiences of different groups of workers. Through a guided discussion and review of data, students learn how to identify the composition effect and why it is important to take it into account when describing a diverse group with a single statistic.

Data and ACRL* Information Literacy Frames

Evaluating and Contextualizing Authority with Data

Students learn how to determine the authority of an information source.

Exploring Sources: Mapping Data Sources on the Web

Students learn how to determine the authority of an information source.

Keeping It Real: Teach ACRL Information Literacy Frames with FRED Data

This lesson plan is designed to supplement the “FRED Interactive: Information Literacy” online course available through www.econlowdown.org.

Storytelling Using Data: Determining the Authority of Data and Applied Interpretations

Students learn how to determine the authority of an information source.

The Information Creation Process: Data Sources and Data Aggregators

Students learn how to determine the authority of an information source.

* Association of College & Research Libraries

Data Visualization:

Data Visualization Modules on Econ Lowdown

In the Data Visualization series on Econ Lowdown, students learn about the basics of data interpretation and visualization from short video tutorials. Each tutorial is followed by a quiz to assess student understanding of the specific data topic.

Teachers: Visit the Data Visualization series in our Econ Lowdown Teacher Portal. Once you are logged in, go to the Resource Gallery and filter by “Subject: Data Literacy” to easily find and preview the Data Visualization lessons.

Historical Inquiry with Charts Toolkit

Historians are experts at assessing and analyzing documents to build a narrative but may be stymied by numbers. Charts (tables, graphs, maps, diagrams, and so on) provide a graphical view of information and can be a powerful way to display evidence. This toolkit provides a series of resources for students to read, interpret, and think critically about charts in textbooks and historical documents. It has three main parts: (i) the Glossary of Charts Terms, (ii) the Glossary of Chart Types, and (iii) Historical Inquiry Questions for Charts. It also includes a suggested procedure for how to use the Toolkit. Keep the Toolkit resources bookmarked to use each time you come across a chart for study.

Dashboards of Key Economic Data, by State

These classroom-ready dashboards show how FRED gives students the latest insights into real world data related to employment, earnings, and education.

Digital Badge Programs



If you have difficulty accessing this content due to a disability, please contact us at 314-444-8624 or economiceducation@stls.frb.org.

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