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Guide to Contextual Learning Projects

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Environmental literacy
Media literacy
Health literacy
Economic literacy
Civic literacy
Computer Technology
Data Analysis
Writing Skills
Creative and Critical Thinking

Data Analysis

One of the best ways to become familiar with a set of data is to work actively with the data, drawing graphs, creating charts, sorting the data, calculating percentages or other hands-on analysis. As you work with the data, you notice interesting points, patterns and relationships that you might not notice if you just glanced at the information while reading. Contextual learning projects build data analysis skills through:
  • Collecting and analyzing survey results;
  • Analyzing data about public issues;
  • Analyzing and graphing data from science field studies and observations;
  • Analyzing labor market data and other career-related information;
  • Analyzing data for business plans and marketing plans;
  • Other applications

Student Worksheet:
Data Analysis Insights

As you work with any data sets, consider the following questions:

  • Do you get any new insights (or surprises) by looking at the data?
  • Does this data support any views that you already had?
  • What patterns do you see in the data? What exceptions do you see to these patterns?
  • Do you notice any interesting relationships between sets of data?
  • Are there any “cause-and-effect” relationships implied by the data?
  • Do you notice any trends over time?

Look for:

  • Highest values – which occupations/countries/groups/etc. have the highest values?
  • Lowest values – which occupations/countries/groups/etc. have the lowest values?
  • Distribution – is the data distributed across a broad range of numbers or clustered around a small range of numbers?
  • Skewness – are most of the values high or low or evenly distributed across the range of numbers?
  • Relationships between two or more data series. – Is there any correlation between two series of numbers?


  • What does this data represent?
  • Are there any vocabulary/terms that I need to look up?
  • Can I explain the data to another person?


  • What is the best way to present this data?
  • Should it be presented in a table or in a graph?
  • What type of graph is best?
  • What should the title of the graph or table be?
  • What are some key points that I could highlight in text accompanying my graph or table?