What Do Geoscience Novices Look at and What Do They See When Viewing and Interpreting Data Visualizations?

Poster presented at the American Geophysical Union Conference, San Francisco, December 3, 2012

This poster presented the first results from Kastens’ collaborative grant on “Making Meaning from Geoscience Data: A Challenge at the Intersection between Geosciences and Cognitive Sciences.” Undergraduates with little or no training in geosciences were shown geoscience data visualizations and interviewed about what they thought they were seeing and how they arrived at their answers. As they viewed the data, their eye movements were recorded to provide insights into what information sources in the data they were drawing on. Shown a global map of bathymetry and topography, novices tend to focus on the continents and ignore the oceans. Shown high resolution images of smaller regions, most novices consult with the color key, but ignore the provided information about map scale. This work was funded by the National Science Foundation’s FIRE Program, which has the mission of “Fostering Interdisciplinary Research in Education.” FIRE grants require a collaboration between scientists of different disciplines, and Kastens is collaborating with cognitive scientist Thomas F. Shipley of the Spatial Intelligence & Learning Center, an expert in perception. 

Download poster [17 MB PDF]

Author: Kim Kastens, Thomas F. Shipley (Temple University), and Alexander Boone (Temple University)
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