Data Science Research Group

Learning & decision support environments

Members of the group have been active in designing and evaluating novel computer based environments to support learning, assessment and decision making particularly with external representations. Group members conduct empirical studies and employ information processing frameworks to understand the knowledge and cognitive processing that underpin engagement and provide empirical and theoretically informed constraints on the design of computer based systems.  

Examples of research

A recent collaborative project on Vicarious learning involved the development of an online patient database for research and training (Richard Cox). The system called PATSy is a multimedia database shell that allows users to administer cognitive assessment tests to `virtual patients’. PATSy is designed to support case-based teaching & learning, problem-based learning and continuous professional development. It is currently employed in areas of clinical science in over twenty-five UK university departments.

Recent research in decision support includes the development and evaluation of an adaptive environment for selecting how to visualize data (Beate Grawemeyer). The system called I-AIVE was used to investigate the relationship between participant’s prior knowledge of visualisations, their appropriate selection of visualisations and the specificity of appropriate visualisations for the task. The results were used to inform the design of I-AIVE which includes facilities to help users select appropriate representations by providing hints or hiding inappropriate selections. I-AIVE incorporated an adaptive user model which learnt and made decisions based on the previous performance of participants.

Current research in assessment includes the design and evaluation of a computer based environment to investigate primary school students understanding of graphical representations in their early stages of graphical learning (Grecia Garcia Gracia). The system has been designed to diagnose and provide intervention for students reported tendency to think about graphical representations as pictures. The project extends empirical research on the so called graph-as-picture misconception to other variant misconceptions and explores the role of playful problem scenarios and touchscreen interaction in facilitating children’s engagement in the assessment task.