L. Stenliden, J. Nissen

Linköping University (SWEDEN)
We study how a specific Visual Analytics (VA), the Statistics eXplorer, and tools for Knowledge Visualization (KV) in school settings can be combined in a learning process. The goals are to explain how VA together with KV shape learning in social science classes in K 12 schools and to develop guidelines for didactic designs as well as a visual analytics framework for educational purposes.

There is a huge divergence between the large amount of information that is produced and the capacity of humans to make sense of it. VA deals with designing and applying tools that support insights in unexplored data sets, where interactions with screens are directed through eye attention. KV on the other hand deals with expression and organisation of such insights and utilizing the knowledge thus created. Together, these could support learning. Recent research, however, point out that current methods for learning processes often only supports basic visual analysis but not the entire process of the analysis. This means that methods that include the process of making visual discoveries (VA) combined with methods that support the process to express them (KV) are lacking. We know it is easy for both students and teachers to use a VA. It is easy for teachers to learn how to maneuver a VA to produce visualizations for educational use. Despite this, the full potential of the VA has been found difficult to reach.

In this world of massively mediated information and communication, current educational models therefore might fail. It looks as teachers’ lack of experience of how to arrange a didactic design of the classroom, when it comes to combining suitable tools that can facilitate analytical reasoning (VA) with a process that support students to construct meaning from visual information (KV), hampers the development of a suitable learning processes. Hence, the aim of this paper is to explore a “set up” of a cooperation in between teachers and researchers in order to support the creation of such combinations of VA and KV in educational settings where didactic designs can be tried out.

In order to explore this a teacher-researcher team has been formed by four researchers together with 15 social science teachers. The researchers have provided theory and earlier research findings in relation to the topic. The teachers have provided their classroom experiences, their well-tried methods and didactic skills. The team members have together shared their views and knowledge through in depth discussions in order to develop lesson plans that take into consideration not only to modify a VA to be used in the lessons but also to develop task for the students that make them benefit from the strengths of the visualization.

In this paper the didactic designs that the teachers intend to implement are presented as well as preliminary findings from an analyses of these lessons plans. The analyses show that the teachers are aware of the importance of not only concentrate on how to use the powerful VA, but also carefully think through how students can demonstrate their growing knowledge. However this is a more challenging task than to introduce the VA for students and teachers.

In the next phase of the project the implementation of the lesson plans will be followed in case-studies. The field of VA and KV can be supported by findings reported in this paper in efforts to construct useful tools for these kind of analyze processes and different ways of knowledge formation.