What is Data Literacy?

Data literacy refers to the ability to understand, assess, and communicate claims derived from data. Data literacy includes understanding what data are, where data come from, and what aspects of the world data represent. Effective application of data literacy can help communicate quantitative information more clearly to diverse audiences.

Data literacy spans a broad range of skills and competencies. With the increasing presence and use of large data sets across a variety of industries, some amount of data literacy is important in the 21st century. This is true regardless of whether one works directly with data.

For many people, being able to assess claims based on data is sufficient. In our daily lives, we often encounter data-based claims in the news and social media. To process, contextualize, or make decisions based off these claims, it is imperative that we be able to understand the claim being made and to know which questions to ask.

Data literacy is also a key component of data science, which is an interdisciplinary field that seeks to use aspects of statistics, mathematics, and computer science to extract knowledge from data, and to develop and provide tools to interact with data.

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