A Study On Designing Effective Introductory Materials for Information Visualization

Yuzuru Tanahashi, Nick Leaf, Kwan-Liu Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Designing introductory materials is extremely important when developing new information visualization techniques. All users, regardless of their domain knowledge, first must learn how to interpret the visually encoded information in order to infer knowledge from visualizations. Yet, despite its significance, there has been little research on how to design effective introductory materials for information visualization. This paper presents a study on the design of online guides that educate new users on how to utilize information visualizations, particularly focusing on the employment of exercise questions in the guides. We use two concepts from educational psychology, learning type (or learning style) and teaching method, to design four unique types of online guides. The effects of the guides are measured by comprehension tests of a large group of crowdsourced participants. The tests covered four visualization types (graph, scatter plot, storyline, and tree map) and a complete range of visual analytics tasks. Our statistical analyses indicate that online guides which employ active learning and the top-down teaching method are the most effective. Our study provides quantitative insight into the use of exercise questions in online guides for information visualizations and will inspire further research on design considerations for other elements in introductory materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-126
Number of pages10
JournalComputer Graphics Forum
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Categories and Subject Descriptors (according to ACM CCS)
  • H.5.m [Information Interfaces and Presentation (e.g. HCI)]: — Miscellaneous

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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