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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Exploring learning opportunities in open data use across data literacy levels Li, Ak Wai


The purpose of this study is to explore learning opportunities for users with different data literacy levels when using open data within an open data portal, with the goal of informing design. An open data portal is a web-based data repository provided by a government to allow the public to find and use open-access government data. Three aspects are investigated: user interactions with the open data portal and associated tools; obstacles faced in interacting with the portal; and learning strategies employed. The City of Vancouver’s open data portal was the study environment. Fourteen university students participated in this remotely administered study which included an assigned task, a think-aloud observational session, a self-completion questionnaire, and a semi-structured interview. There were divvied into high/low data literacy groups based on a self-assessment questionnaire. The video recordings of the think-aloud observational sessions and semi-structured interviews were analyzed using qualitative methods. Participants in the low data literacy group faced more obstacles due to gaps in understanding how to process open data than those in the higher data literacy group. Participants in the high data literacy group mainly faced obstacles in figuring out how to use the unfamiliar data analysis tools in the portal. Some important data processing activities such as evaluating data quality, data wrangling, labeling analyzed findings and data citation, seemed to be lacking across all participants, regardless of their data literacy self-assessment. These results suggest that an open data portal should improve usability to help users learn to use the tools and provide learning tools to help users develop needed data literacy skills to make good use of open data. The findings have implications for the future study of designing learning tools in an open data portal for users with different data literacy levels.

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