Using Scientific Visualization to Enhance the Teaching and Learning of Core Concepts

  • S. Raj Chaudhury
  • Lynn Mandeltort
  • Amy B. Mulnix
  • Eleanor V.H. Vandegrift
  • Jennifer R. Yates


Scientific visualization is a particular type of information representation that involves the use of static and dynamic visual and graphical media. To develop fluency with scientific visualization, one needs to develop the ability to interpret, analyze, and construct meaning from appropriate visual representations. Results from the cognitive sciences and discipline-based education research indicate that visual images help us learn and reason. We present vignettes from a variety of higher education perspectives in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines that illustrate the use of scientific visualizations in different settings. In particular, the cases illustrate how faculty recognized that a lack of media literacy was impairing student success and then responded by embedding the teaching of those skills into course content. In this chapter, we move from basic interpretation of xy line graphs in mathematics, physics, and chemistry courses to learning biology from animated simulations and student-generated digital videos to explain neuroscience concepts. Practitioners reading this chapter will gain instructional insight into the challenges students encounter when learning and strategies that faculty can employ to overcome those challenges.


Biology Chemistry Graphing Neuroscience Physics Science education Scientific visualization 



Eleanor Vandegrift acknowledges support of HHMI Science Education Award 52006956 and her colleagues from the University of Oregon Library Interactive Media Group and Science Literacy Program for their work on Graphicacy. Amy Mulnix acknowledges support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. S. Raj Chaudhury acknowledges the contribution of Paul Springfield in creating some graphics for the chapter.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Raj Chaudhury
    • 1
  • Lynn Mandeltort
    • 1
  • Amy B. Mulnix
    • 2
  • Eleanor V.H. Vandegrift
    • 3
  • Jennifer R. Yates
    • 4
  1. 1.Auburn UniversityAuburnUSA
  2. 2.Franklin and Marshall CollegeLancasterUSA
  3. 3.University of OregonEugeneUSA
  4. 4.Ohio Wesleyan UniversityDelawareUSA

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