Enhance Student Engagement with Data Visualization

Visualizations are highly effective teaching tools. They can help to improve comprehension, decrease learning time, enhance retrieval, and increase retention.

Recently, data visualization expert Dr. Anselm Spoerri of the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University presented an ACRL/Choice webinar: Exploring Data Visualization Approaches to Enhance Student Engagement. In the webinar, he explored a range of data visualization methods and presented examples of varied data sources–simple, curated, and raw.

When used effectively, data visualization tools can help to grab students’ attention, stimulate their curiosity, and tap into their passions, according to Dr. Spoerri.

For example, this visualization shows the number of Syrian children without education because of the war. The facts are stark—in 2011 nearly 400,000 were without education. In 2016, that number rose to nearly 3 million. The visualization uses animation to illustrate the increase over time and, in doing so, is able to elicit emotion and make the data become more meaningful as the user interacts with the visualization.

Another example is a data visualization developed by The Guardian. It uses spatial patterns to depict incidence of gun violence in U.S. The case study focuses on St. Louis and illustrates that gun homicides in the city are highest in areas of poverty, unemployment, and failing schools. Here again, animation helps viewers quickly comprehend the patterns in the data.

Data visualization tools have the potential to transform education as they encourage students to learn to look for patterns in data, investigate data in an active way, and truly understand key concepts.

Watch Dr. Spoerri’s full webinar here to find out more about enhancing student engagement with data visualization. You can also download his free white paper: Using Interactive Data Visualization to Promote an Active Learning Experience for Engineering Students.

Tags: , ,