Spencer Barnes teaches coursework in graphic design, information design, and 3D animation and VFX for visual explanations. Barnes’ research explores the synthesis of cognitive psychology, information design and visualization with respect to data journalism and journalism education. It is concerned with the design, application, efficacy and implications of data-driven graphics and the communicative roles that such information displays play in journalism and mass communication.

Before coming to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Barnes taught automotive design and computer-aided design coursework at the NC State College of Design.

He has published research on design education, engineering education, and the effective uses and applications of computer-aided design technology. 

He is a member of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.



  • Ed.D., North Carolina State University

  • Master of Industrial Design, North Carolina State University

  • Bachelor of Graphic Design, North Carolina State University


  • Barnes, S., & Ruel, R. (under review). Examining the processes involved in the design of information graphics: An exploratory study.
  • Barnes, S., & Wiebe, E. (under review). The effects of worked examples on CAD performance: An exploratory investigation.
  • Barnes, S., & Wiebe, E. (under review). The application of a Functional Interaction Model for solid modeling processes.
  • Barnes, S., & Ruel, R. (2012). A review of Alberto Cairo’s “The Functional Art: An Introduction to Information Graphics and Visualization”. Visual Communication Quarterly, 19(4), 257-259.
  • Barnes, S. (2008).The context and experience of the critique: A qualitative study. The International Journal of the Arts in Society, 3(2), 1-6.