Evaluating emotion visualizations using AffectVis, an affect-aware dashboard for students Articles uri icon

publication date

  • July 2017

start page

  • 107

end page

  • 125


  • 2


  • 10

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1947-1017

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2397-7604


  • Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to evaluate four visualizations that represent affective states of students. Design/methodology/approach: An empirical-experimental study approach was used to assess the usability of affective state visualizations in a learning context. The first study was conducted with students who had knowledge of visualization techniques (n=10). The insights from this pilot study were used to improve the interpretability and ease of use of the visualizations. The second study was conducted with the improved visualizations with students who had no or limited knowledge of visualization techniques (n=105). Findings: The results indicate that usability, measured by perceived usefulness and insight, is overall acceptable. However, the findings also suggest that interpretability of some visualizations, in terms of the capability to support emotional awareness, still needs to be improved. The level of students’ awareness of their emotions during learning activities based on the visualization interpretation varied depending on previous knowledge of information visualization techniques. Awareness was found to be high for the most frequently experienced emotions and activities that were the most frustrating, but lower for more complex insights such as interpreting differences with peers. Furthermore, simpler visualizations resulted in better outcomes than more complex techniques. Originality/value: Detection of affective states of students and visualizations of these states in computer-based learning environments have been proposed to support student awareness and improve learning. However, the evaluation of visualizations of these affective states with students to support awareness in real life settings is an open issue.


  • Computer Science
  • Education
  • Information Science
  • Robotics and Industrial Informatics
  • Telecommunications


  • learning analytics; interactive learning environments; human-computer interface; visualization evaluation