Session Description: Bar graphs are a popular form of data visualization because they are easy to create in point-and-click software, but they are often misleading. However, R—a common statistical computing and graphics software—opens up numerous possibilities for ecologists to visualize their data. In this workshop, we will discuss why bar graphs can be problematic and introduce alternatives that even novice R users can learn quickly. We will discuss our experiences with teaching these concepts to introductory biology students and others who may be new to coding and data visualization, and then work with participants through R code examples.
No experience coding in R is required to participate in this workshop. In fact, the participants will not need to download or install anything on their computers–they will just need a web browser and internet connection. Participants will code through an interactive website hosting fill-in-the-blank templates. Users will choose which variables in an example dataset to plot, learn syntax and formatting from inspecting the code, and make additional changes if desired.
Using an interactive website to host workshop materials will reduce the time spent onboarding participants–usually a time-consuming process for novice users. The site will be built using Ines Montani’s open source course-starter-r, a promising option for teaching coding. The tutorial will include notes, images, and code chunks that users can edit throughout the workshop. The complete open-source tutorial will be made available online after the workshop so educators can incorporate materials into their teaching or use as a reference for their own needs.