School student learning preferences: a visualisation

So far I have not been very good at demonstrating our work visually. To begin redressing this I have had a go at visualising some of the results from last year’s political engagement research.

In one part of our survey, school students in the 11-19 age range were asked which topics they thought they should be taught more of. I took the data I wanted to visualise and created a new table with it. Then, with the help of tutorials from flowingdata.com, I used the statistical computing framework R to turn the numbers into both a heat map and a set of Chernoff faces. I then used a vector drawing package (Inkscape, to be precise) to tidy up and tailor the images.

Heat map

In the heat map image below, the ‘hotter’ the topic the more important the students thought it was.

Chernoff faces

The bigger, happier and more elaborate the face (in the image below), the more important its associated topic was felt to be. The characteristics of the faces are determined by the data for each age group.

All of that was derived from a csv file of a simple table of data:

“Which four, if any, of the following do you think your school or college should spend MORE time teaching you about?”
Subject All Age 14 Age 15 Age 16 Age 17 Age 18 Age 19
Banking, mortgages and personal finance 304 50 58 43 49 50 54
Politics and current affairs 243 30 29 40 44 49 51
The economy 213 34 39 32 37 30 41
Law 161 28 23 28 30 26 26
My rights as a citizen 164 28 33 31 25 24 23
Sex and relationships 122 17 16 26 20 19 24
Responsibilities as a citizen 98 20 24 13 15 14 12
Different views and lifestyles 101 10 15 21 22 18 15
Morality 101 15 15 16 19 18 18
Health 97 19 15 18 14 15 16
Skills for effective participation in community & politics 104 17 18 17 17 22 13
Drugs, alcohol & substance abuse 101 22 21 19 12 13 14
How I can make my community a better place 73 19 13 10 10 14 7
How I can help people in need 62 14 9 10 11 9 9
None of these 26 3 2 3 5 7 6
Don’t know 28 6 6 4 5 3 4
Views expressed on this blog are not necessarily those of the Citizenship Foundation.

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