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Title: Evaluating geovisualization and user interaction : an experimental design approach based upon user tasks
Author: Tobón, Carolina
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2003
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Visualization is a cognitive activity the main purpose of which is to gain insight and understanding of a problem or dataset by representing the data in some visual form that can reveal otherwise hidden information. When applied to geospatial data, these techniques may facilitate the construction of hypotheses about relations between attributes in the data. Geographic visualization, or geovisualization, is the field concerned with exploring spatial data visually. However, graphical displays are of modest use if their users cannot interpret the information they represent or if the computer software tools where they may be embedded are not easy to use. These issues are investigated in a series of three studies. The first study inspects usability limitations in geovisualization tools that may hinder the data analysis and cognitive processes they support. Due to the exploratory nature of geovisualization, designing the tasks with which to test the environment was a great challenge. Therefore, the second study suggests a methodology for defining a task typology which is used to evaluate a second geovisualization tool using formal experimental design. The third study further inspects the validity of the task taxonomy proposed and concentrates on learning about user strategies in approaching different types of tasks. These evaluations are shown to contribute to the research on cognitive issues in geovisualization and geographic information science by facilitating the understanding of user tasks and requirements and how to support their work processes. Hence, the studies suggest an exciting possibility for cross-fertilisation between the evaluation methods reported and research on issues of spatial cognition, such as the representation in memory of geographical knowledge and its effects on geographical judgments. In addition, the combination of techniques used for the experiments are shown to be an effective means to evaluate whether the tools we develop are usable, useful and fit for purpose. These are crucial considerations if geovisualization environments are to be adopted by a larger set of users and support a wider range of work processes. The methods suggested for defining tasks can be extended to appraise a more ample range of data formats and users than those considered here in order to build taxonomies of tasks with which to formally evaluate geovisualizations. In this way, we would be able to accumulate evidence for understanding how these tools facilitate hypothesis formation and knowledge construction and thus contribute to the development of the field.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available