What Do Steph Curry, Bernie Sanders, and Titanium Have in Common?

Their unique properties make for compelling data visualizations! The New York Times regularly uses data visualization to enhance its stories on everything from U.S. presidential primary results to Steph Curry’s 3-point record. This is because data visualization is an extremely effective method of communicating complex information and displaying patterns within that information. In other words, it’s a great way to tell a story with data.

And what about titanium? When written out, its properties—density, elastic modulus, tensile strength—are a series of complex numbers. But with data visualization, these properties quickly make sense. Visualizations immediately show the extent to which each property’s values vary across different materials, and how values compare from one class of materials to another. That’s especially important to engineering students. As a teaching tool, data visualization is a powerful way to engage students and help them understand difficult concepts like material properties.

Evidence supports the idea that students can better understand and retain information that’s presented visually. A report by a cognitive psychologist on the effectiveness of learning through visualizations states, “appropriately designed diagrams can successfully promote learning because they successfully guide the learner to engage in cognitive processes essential for comprehension.”

A recent study by Mindlab International showed that individuals used about 20% fewer cognitive resources to process information that was presented visually rather than via text. As a result, they were 17% more productive and 4.5% better able to recall details.

The old adage, a picture is worth a thousand words, or numbers in the case of material properties, really rings true when it comes to your students’ understanding and retention of complex concepts. Here’s a great example:

Uniquely designed by faculty for teaching material properties, AccessEngineering’s DataVis is the interactive data visualization tool that instantly displays property data across a wide range of materials.

You can try out a free, limited version of DataVis here, or request a free trial of AccessEngineering—your all-in-one solution for professional engineering content integrated with dynamic teaching and learning tools—to experience the full version.

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