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Paper: Why Color Matters: The Effect of Visual Cues on Learner's Interpretation of Dark Matter in a Cosmology Visualization
Volume: 473, Communicating Science
Page: 219
Authors: Buck, Z.
Abstract: As we turn more and more to high-end computing to understand the Universe at cosmological scales, visualizations of simulations will take on a vital role as perceptual and cognitive tools. In collaboration with the Adler Planetarium and University of California High-Performance AstroComputing Center (UC-HiPACC), I am interested in better understanding the use of visualizations to mediate astronomy learning across formal and informal settings. The aspect of my research that I present here uses quantitative methods to investigate how learners are relying on color to interpret dark matter in a cosmology visualization. The concept of dark matter is vital to our current understanding of the Universe, and yet we do not know how to effectively present dark matter visually to support learning. I employ an alternative treatment post-test only experimental design, in which members of an equivalent sample are randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups, followed by treatment and a post-test. Results indicate significant correlation (p < .05) between the color of dark matter in the visualization and survey responses, implying that aesthetic variations like color can have a profound effect on audience interpretation of a cosmology visualization.
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