Describing and Analyzing Graphs

Initial Publication Date: December 21, 2006

An important part of data analysis is understanding the information contained within a graphical representation of data. To accomplish this, students must be given guidelines for describing and analyzing data presented graphically.

  • Asking students to view and describe graphs in their own words helps them better understand the information conveyed by a graph. Learn more here
  • The basics of plotting points, labeling axes with appropriate scales, titles, and units can be difficult for some introductory-level students. Learn more here
  • Frequency plots or histograms are a very useful visualization tool for univariate data. There are many resources available to help your students learn more about histograms. Learn more here
  • The linear trend or slope of a graph is often a useful value to estimate from a series of data. Learn more here
  • The Period, frequency, and amplitude are basic parameters that students can estimate from graphs of periodic data. Learn more here
  • The doubling time for exponential growth or the residence time for exponential decay are often worth exploring in introductory geoscience and bioscience courses courses. Learn more here
  • Contour Plots are extremely common throughout the geosciences. Contour plots are very useful for visualizing and interpreting large data collected on a two-dimensional grid network. Learn more here

  • Two dimensional times series are best visualized by Hovmoller plots in which the abscissa (x-axis) is the time and the ordinate (y-axis) is some spatial variable like latitude, height, or depth, and the measured quantity identified by isopleths or color contours. Learn more here

  • Fourier transforms of time series or spatial data are used throughout the sciences. Consider providing your introductory-level students with some familiarity of this essential analysis tool. Learn more here