LEARNING ANALYTICS AND DATA VISUALIZATION
IN A 4TH GRADE CLASSROOM
The 2014 NMC Horizon Report stated that the time-to-adoption horizon for Learning Analytics to have a
large impact over every aspect of education is two to three years (Johnson, Adams Becker, Estrada, &
Freeman, 2014). But don’t tell that to Martin Reinsmoen and his fourth-grade students. The time for
learning analytics in their classroom may have arrived already.
Starting in August, students in Martin’s class began starting off their school days by entering the
classrooms, putting away their things, grabbing their laptops, and answering these 8 questions:
1. What is your name?
2. What day of the week is it?
3. How are you feeling this morning?
4. How much time did you spend reading last night?
5. When did you go to bed last night?
6. When did you get up this morning?
7. What did you eat for breakfast today?
8. Did you exercise yesterday?
Elementary school students have been using questions like these to gather and represent data as part of
their units on data and probability for years. But did their graphs ever look like this?
Nearly four months after starting this data experiment, Martin had been playing with interactive data
visualization created by ASB’s data scientist, Sujoy Chaudhuri. He was excited to see how students would
respond to and interact with the visualization of over 700 pieces of data. He shared the link with his
students and invited them to interact with the visualization. The first thing most of the students did was
try to figure out who they were in the visualization. One girl declared, “ I’m Girl 6 because I eat french
toast! No, wait, three girls eat french toast!”
As students started to understand how the data visualization worked, they began to explore more
widely across the data. In particular, they were interested in the different patterns of data between the
girls and boys. They noticed that the girls were happier than the boys. Which wasn’t fair according to at
least a few boys. One boy rattled off, “Boys are more normal, excited, sleepy, and sick!”