University of Michigan Visualization Report

A little while ago I attended a brown bag session at MLibrary that is part of the summer series titled, I Don’t Think That Means What You Think It Means (+1 for The Princess Bride reference) on visualization. For me it was particularly interesting because it elucidated that there is not a standard accepted definition for what exactly constitutes visualization. That brown bag was where I

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first learned about U of M’s Future of Visualization committee, which undertook a campus-wide survey last March to suss out what visualization activities were going on across campus, what resources were being utilized, and where the gaps are.

The committee has just released a report detailing the findings of the survey – you can read the whole report here.

The report includes an overview of visualization activities across the University of Michigan by pulling information from over 1,100 campus respondents. There is an entire section dedicated to clinical visualization (p. 9), as well as its impact on teaching and learning (p. 8) – two areas I am deeply passionate about.

Judging by the survey results – we’re doing decently well:

78% percent of those using U-M resources [are] satis[fied] … This high satisfaction rate among those using U-M resources is reassuring and a testament to the Michigan Advantage. (p. 11)

The survey also asked which U-M resources participants had used over the previous 2 years (p. 11):

  • Undisclosed resource – 15%
  • UM3D Lab – 13%
  • FLUX – 9%
  • SAND Lab – 6%

The low percentages lead the committee to conclude that “more work needs to be done in promoting existing resources on campus to increase utilization.” 

Another interesting finding what to what end the visualization is used, and when in the process visualization is integrated. I’ve snipped those relevant tables for your convenience below (both from p. 11 of the report):

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I think this report very clearly highlights an opportunity for campus libraries, with solid information from what our constituents are seeking:

The … campus survey showed an inverse relationship between specific technologies and how familiar participants were with it. This lack of familiarity with technology offered at the University of Michigan was echoed in requests for additional skill building and learning opportunities with 87% looking for workshops, 86% wanting online training, and 86% seeking access to staff consultants. Does this mean an individual is guaranteed to use a particular resource if they learn more about it? Not necessarily. However, the survey results show that some technologies are poorly understood and under-utilized while those that are well understood are viewed as highly valuable. The survey also reported that there is a strong desire by the U-M community to learn more and gain access to technical expertise. (p. 13 – emphasis mine)

An entire section of the report (3c – Perspectives, starting on page 14) includes paragraphs from faculty and researchers from a variety of disciplines across campus, and are particularly enlightening. This report is an interesting and worthwhile read for anyone looking to dive into visualization – whether to utilize it for your own work, or to help others explore it in an instructional capacity.

2 thoughts on “University of Michigan Visualization Report

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