Bringing Interactive Visual Analytics to the Classroom for Developing EDA Skills

TitleBringing Interactive Visual Analytics to the Classroom for Developing EDA Skills
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsSelf, JZ, Self, N, House, L, Evia, JR, Leman, S, North, C
InstitutionVirginia Tech
TypeTechnical Report
Keywordsdimension reduction, education, multidimensional scaling, multivariate analysis, Visual Analytics

This paper addresses the use of visual analytics in education for teaching what we call cognitive dimensionality (CD) and other EDA skills. We present the concept of CD to characterize students' capacity for making dimensionally complex insights from data. Using this concept, we build a vocabulary and methodology to support a student’s progression in terms of growth from low cognitive dimensionality (LCD) to high cognitive dimensionality (HCD). Crucially, students do not need high-level math skills to develop HCD. Rather, we use our own tool called Andromeda that enables human-computer interaction with a common, easy to interpret visualization method called Weighted Multidimensional Scaling (WMDS) to promote the idea of making high-dimensional insights. In this paper, we present Andromeda and report findings from a series of classroom assignments to 18 graduate students. These assignments progress from spreadsheet manipulations to statistical software such as R and finally to the use of Andromeda. In parallel with the assignments, we saw students' CD begin low and improve.