Improving Students' Cognitive Dimensionality through Education with Object-Level Interaction

TitleImproving Students' Cognitive Dimensionality through Education with Object-Level Interaction
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsSelf, JZ, Self, N, House, L, Leman, S, North, C
InstitutionVirginia Tech
TypeTechnical Report
Keywordsmultivariate data analysis, object level interaction, Visual Analytics

This paper addresses the use of visual analytics techniques in education to advance students' cognitive dimensionality. Students naturally tend to characterize data in simplistic one dimensional terms using metrics such as mean, median, mode. Real- world data, however, is more complex and students need to learn to recognize and create high-dimensional arguments. Data exploration methods can encourage thinking beyond traditional one dimensional insights. In particular, visual analytics tools that afford object-level interaction (OLI) allow for generation of more complex insights, despite inexperience with multivariate data. With these tools, students’ insights are of higher complexity in terms of dimensionality and cardinality and built on more diverse interactions. We present the concept of cognitive dimensionality to characterize students' capacity for dimensionally complex insights. Using this concept, we build a vocabulary and methodology to support a student’s progression in terms of growth from low to high cognitive dimensionality. We report findings from a series of classroom assignments with increasingly complex analysis tools. These assignments progressed from spreadsheet manipulations to statistical software such as R and finally to an OLI application, Andromeda. Our findings suggest that students' cognitive dimensionality can be improved and further research on the impact of visual analytics tools on education for cognitive dimensionality is warranted.