Date of Award


Degree Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Matthew Magee

Second Advisor

Dr. Betty Lai


BACKGROUND: Children are particularly vulnerable to the impact of natural disasters, yet limited scholarly attention has been placed on understanding their needs. The effect disasters may have on children’s educational attainment and achievement, otherwise known as educational vulnerability, is one of the least studied aspects of children’s disaster research. The use of visualizations using open access data repositories can facilitate researchers understanding of children’s educational vulnerability post-disaster.

AIMS: This paper illustrates how visuals can be used to address challenges that researchers may encounter when using educational datasets to evaluate disaster-related educational vulnerability. The challenges addressed include: (1) understanding data quality, (2) evaluating patterns within the data, (3) and evaluating for possible moderating variables.

DATA: This paper uses an example dataset containing educational data collected pre and post Hurricane Ike’s landfall in the Texas Gulf Coast in 2008. The publicly available data originated from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and was compiled into a historical dataset for the school years 2003-2011. Schools served as the primary unit of analysis (n = 464). Performance on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) served as a proxy for school academic functioning.

CONCLUSIONS: The use of visualizations serves as a valuable method to aid in the understanding of educational vulnerability in the context of disasters. Visuals can be used to evaluate accuracy during data exploration, identify patterns within the data, and stimulate new questions and hypotheses. Future research should place focus on the utilization of longitudinal educational datasets, which will provide more detailed information regarding students’ educational vulnerability risks and needs.