Graph it Up! Creating Visuals with Your Data

Studies have found for us that providing information in several different types of media at once is far more effective to the recipient learner than in one format alone. If someone were to stand in front of a group of people and simply speak to them for a half hour, the information retention rate will be drastically low. The same can be said for only handing out visuals. Drastically low.

Now, when the two are combined, when the lecture is accompanied with hand outs, visuals, graphs and charts, the listener viewer is being intellectually stimulated on multiple levels, their brain is being asked to focus on the information and task at hand with several different parts, therefore making it a much higher priority for the brain. The more aspects of the brain focused on a single task at one time, the more information is absorbed and the less likely the chance of the listener learner to drift off into sleep or distraction or day dream. This learning and presentation technique is known as differentiated learning, and is becoming a regular lesson in teaching practice throughout universities.

Data visualizations, or infographics, are the physical embodiment of differentiated learning and can be utilized in many ways, in many fields. Data visualization tools such as data infographics take the verbal or written data being discussed and put it into a form that can be absorbed and understood in conjunction with how it is being discussed.

To visualize this data, it is usually done by inputting specific numbers or other information into a program that will then take that material and turn it into a visual of the creator’s own choosing. This can come in a wide variety of charts, graphs, and diagrams. Most of the time, the data that is being input can only fit into a certain type of visual, so the visual creator is often limited in his choices, but any data visualizations are better than none at all.

For example, information that can be displayed in a pie chart, can not translate to a Venn diagram, nor can it be displayed in a simple line graph. That being said, as mentioned before, even with only one choice of the data visualizations, it will be much effective in the classroom or the board meeting if the listener has the chart to look at as the speaker spouts off numbers and figures for the quarter. They will be more attentive and more receptive to the information, making the communication and therefore the lesson much more of a success.