Exploratory versus explanatory visual learning analytics: driving teachers’ attention through educational data storytelling

Vanessa Echeverria, Roberto Martinez-Maldonado, Simon Buckingham Shum, Katherine Chiluiza, Roger Granda, Cristina Conati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


From a human-centred computing perspective, supporting the interpretation of educational dashboards and visualizations by the people intended to use them exposes critical design challenges that may often be trivialized. Empirical evidence already shows that “usable” visualizations are not necessarily effective from an educational perspective. Since an educator’s interpretation of visualized data is essentially the construction of a narrative about student progress, in this paper, we propose the concept of “Educational Data Storytelling” as an approach for explaining student data by aligning educational visualizations with the intended learning design. We present a pilot study that explores the effectiveness of these data storytelling elements based on educator responses to prototypes by analyzing the kinds of stories they articulate, their eye-tracking behaviour, and their preferences after inspecting a series of student data visualizations. The dual purpose is to understand the contribution of each visual element for data storytelling, as well as the effectiveness of the enhancements when combined.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-97
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Learning Analytics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

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