There are three learning goals for this course:
- Students are able to describe leading research on visual design in the field of cognition and communication in their own words.
- Students are able to apply the abovementioned research to reflect on professional visual displays.
- Students are able to apply the acquired knowledge to design and conduct a small scale (experimental, analytical, design) study.
The central topic of this course is the way in which we come to an understanding of informational visual displays, such as diagrams, graphs and maps. The starting point is a collection of articles focusing on the cognitive effects of several variables in these displays. For example, we read an article showing that various basic graph formats lead to fundamentally different interpretations. Also factors such as interactivity and dimensionality (i.e., 2D/3D) are discussed, again in the light of their effects on viewers' cognition. This way, we discuss and apply important design principles, and various methods used to study the effects of visual display characteristics.|
We read the articles ‘horizontally’: theoretical backgrounds of the different articles are discussed in one week, the methods in another week, and so on. Every week, we have one plenary lecture and one tutorial. During the plenary lectures, we discuss the content of the articles by looking for commonalities and differences, to get an understanding of the state of the art. Based on these discussions, students think of a small-scale research project, which they carry out stepwise from research question to conference paper report. During the tutorials, we discuss the progression of the different projects, either plenary or in separate groups. Students’ experiences from previous years tell us that after getting used to the horizontal reading and emphasis on group discussion, students greatly appreciate this way of collaboration and learning. The tutorials are mandatory to attend.
The assessment for the course is based on:
Every plenary lecture starts with a short exam on the required reading for that week. With these short exams, students can earn bonus points for the final written exam. The marks for both the final exam and the conference paper separately must be a pass. This means you cannot compensate for one mark with that for the other. The conference paper can only be retaken once when the first take is a fail. The grade for the retake cannot be higher than a 6.
- Individual: Written exam (60%)
- Individual, or with fellow Research Master students: Conference paper (40%)
Knowing how to correctly and effectively visualize data is a valuable professional skill. Students in this course familiarize themselves with a broad collection of data visualizations, underlying design principles, and effects on attention and interpretation.
- References to literature on how to choose and create effective data visualizations will be provided.