Andromeda in Education: Studies on Student Collaboration and Insight Generation with Interactive Dimensionality Reduction

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Virginia Tech


Andromeda is an interactive visualization tool that projects high-dimensional data into a scatterplot-like visualization using Weighted Multidimensional Scaling (WMDS). The visualization can be explored through surface-level interaction (viewing data values), parametric interaction (altering underlying parameterizations), and observation-level interaction (directly interacting with projected points). This thesis presents analyses on the collaborative utility of Andromeda in a middle school class and the insights college-level students generate when using Andromeda. The first study discusses how a middle school class collaboratively used Andromeda to explore and compare their engineering designs. The students analyzed their designs, represented as high-dimensional data, as a class. This study shows promise for introducing collaborative data analysis to middle school students in conjunction with other technical concepts such as the engineering design process. Participants in the study on college-level students were given a version of Andromeda, with access to different interactions, and were asked to generate insights on a dataset. By applying a novel visualization evaluation methodology on students' natural language insights, the results of this study indicate that students use different vocabulary supported by the interactions available to them, but not equally. The implications, as well as limitations, of these two studies are further discussed.



data analysis, dimensionality reduction, education, natural language processing