F5-T4-2 - Using Evidence Based Practices and Learning to Enhance Critical Thinking Skills in Students through Data Visualization

2. Research-to-Practice Work In Progress
Vetria Byrd1 , Paul Asunda1
1 Purdue University

This research-to-practice work in progress paper outlines the use of evidence-based practices and learning to enhance critical thinking skills in students through data visualization. Data visualization is a multi-stage process that enables the transformation of complex data into visual representations that inform without overwhelming its audience. The purpose of this study is to investigate how data visualization learning experiences enhances students’ critical thinking skills. In this paper we identify the conceptualization of critical thinking in the data visualization process. A design-based research approach is used to empirically investigate the main research question: after participating in data visualization learning experiences, in what ways do students engage in design practices that enhance development of critical thinking skills? The working hypothesis is students experience greater learning gains when instructions include design challenges integrated with the data visualization process and mapped to critical thinking that requires them to exhibit higher-order-thinking skills. The first aim of the study is to identify critical thinking skills that are evident in the data visualization process. The second aim is to identify habits of the mind competencies that are evident in the data visualization process. The implications of this work will inform the implementation of the Paul-Elder critical thinking framework into the data visualization process with the goal of building essential intellectual traits in undergraduates. In this work the data visualization process facilitates the logical structure of connected elements of higher-order thinking that relate to one another within the theoretical frameworks of critical thinking and habits of the mind. This research is significant because it informs the practice of engineering through a problem-solving activity and computing education by introducing data visualization as method for improving critical thinking skills; a requirement for STEM students, a desired skill for all students.