Sample Assignment: Contextualizing Gapminder

Recently in class we looked at the Gapminder project and discussed the ways that it visualizes data on a wide range of topics for countries all over the world. For this assignment, you will use the program to gain a better understanding of the ways that historical indicators like birth rate, GDP per capita, life expectancy and pollution are interconnected. Through this assignment, you will also examine connections between countries, and the ways that national borders shape demographic shifts. Using material learned in class, choose a country that underwent a dramatic change in life expectancy over the course of 20 years or less. Using the same set of years, look at how other indicators fared for your chosen country. Also, keep an eye on the countries that are geographically close to it. Using the information you’ve collected, material learned in class, and any necessary outside research, answer the following questions:

Which country and date range did you choose? Why?

What are some indicators that shifted in a similar direction? Why?

What are some that shifted in a different direction? Why?

Are there any indicators that remained constant? Why?

Did any countries of the same geographic region react similarly? Why?

Did any countries of the same geographic region react inversely? Why?

Did any countries around the world react similarly? Why?

Download assignment and rubric (PDF)

For other ideas on using Gapminder in the classroom, read John Rosinbum's post on AHA Today, "'Wait... What?' Continuities, Changes, and Critical Thinking with Gapminder."