Working with interactive data visualizations

Working with interactive data visualizations

DataSketch: Supporting Data Visualization Literacy in the Middle Grades


Project Description:
This NSF-funded project (award #1350282, PI: Michelle Hoda Wilkerson) aimed to support middle school students’ design and exploration of interactive data visualizations. It involved two interrelated strands: (i) the development and research of a tablet-based tool for students to create sketches and program them to respond to archival data input, and (ii) research on youths’ knowledge and skills needed to create, make sense of, and learn from interactive data visualizations.

We used a collaborative-design approach with longitudinal tool interviews with middle school students and repeated input from educators, learning scientists, and designers of educational technologies. We worked with software developers and undergraduate students interested in UX design and computer science to implement changes based on feedback from the various stakeholders for tool use.

First DataSketch prototype


Second DataSketch prototype

Main insights:
When developing computational tools for learning, input from potential users should go beyond the design of the tool interface to include and address the diverse needs and goals users might have for using the tool.

–   Poster presentation: 2016 Postdoc and Graduate Student Poster Competition, Tufts University.
–   2016 STEM for all Video Showcase: DataSketch: Data-Driven Visualization in Middle School, TERC.
–   Conference presentation: 2017 Interaction Design and Children Conference (IDC 2017), Stanford University.
–   Paper presentation: 2019 annual conference of the American Educational Research Association (AERA 2019); For the work presented here I was awarded the 2019 Robert F. Tinker AERA scholarship for innovative student work in the learning sciences and/or advanced technologies in learning.
–   Book chapter (under revision): Learning from “interpretations of innovation” in the co-design of digital tools


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