What Do Geoscience Novices and Experts Look at and What Do They See when Viewing Geoscience Data Visualizations

Poster presented at the Gordon Conference on Visualization in Science and EducationJuly 22, 2013

This poster was aimed at an interdisciplinary audience who work on all sorts of visualizations across all fields of science and science education. It reports the findings from a study in which we used eye-tracking and video-taped think aloud interviews to study how geoscience novices and experts interpret topographic and bathymetric data visualizations. The novices were undergraduates in the psychology participant pool at Temple University and the experts were researchers at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory with at least 10 years of experience.  Not surprisingly, the novices and experts differed enormously on how well they interpreted the data. Somewhat more surprisingly, there were only subtle differences in how they explored the data visually. For example, when looking at a global map, the novices tended to dwell on the familiar continents rather than the unfamiliar seafloor. Experts invested their looking-time more evenly across the map as a whole.

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Author: Kim Kastens, Frances Straccia, Thomas F. Shipley, and Alexander Boone
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