What Do You Meme? Students Communicating their Experiences, Intuitions, and Biases Surrounding Data Through Memes

Memes have become ubiquitous artifacts of contemporary digital culture that integrate visual and textual components in order to communicate about a topic. They can be used as forms of visual argumentation that draw on cultural references while facilitating critical commentary that typically results in humorous and caustic dialogue. In this paper, we investigate the meme creation tool, DataMeme where middle school students explore graphs then construct GIFs using existing Gyphy GIFs and overlay their own text onto them in order to communicate about the meaning behind the data. We explore the ways the students engaged in data reasoning and their argumentation practices as they communicate through their memes. Findings from our analysis of 56 data memes and the corresponding written explanations from the students, show that data memes allow students to evaluate data claims within their broader societal implications, while also expressing personal beliefs and attitudes about data.

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