Week 4 Drawing

Week 4 drawing

For the past week, my data collection focused on the big picture of my learning, providing additional contexts such as work and personal life. This week, I decided to go more microscopic and manually record the distractions I experienced while reading the Bulger (2016) paper and the Tsai, Perrotta & Gasevic (2020) paper.

The way I recorded distractions was similar to having a time sheet, where I logged the time I started reading the paper concerned. While reading, I also recorded the timepoints whenever I perceived I I got distracted. Whenever the distraction caused me to consciously put down the paper and did something else, I logged the times at which I put down and pick up the paper, and also record some qualitative details about the distraction (or rather, “derailment”). The distractions were categorised based on their nature (work-related, non-work-related, etc.).

I felt my scientist self also prompted me to experiment a bit in this data collection exercise. I have tried multiple times to get used to reading journal articles on electronic devices, as opposed to printing them out. I tried this during IDEL’s week 1 but then I fell miserably. The “experimental conditions” were as followed:

Bulger (2016): reading on OneNote with my hybrid laptop, sitting on my bed

Tsai, Perrotta & Gasevic (2020): reading on printed copy, sitting on my bed

However there were also limitations to this experiment: (1) Bulger (2016) was significantly longer than Tsai, Perrotta & Gasevic (2020); (2) I started reading Tsai, Perrotta & Gasevic (2020) much later than Bulger (2016) despite being on a different day.

The design rationale of the visualisation is based on the literal meaning of “distraction” – which is the phenomenon of my attention being taken away from what I was trying to do (Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries). Hence I used a time axis to symbolise the task at hand, and visualised my distractions as a curly line that points out from the time axis (i.e. my thought leaving the task at hand) and gets dragged back towards the axis (i.e. regaining attention on the task at hand). I also used icon as proxies for qualitative details about my derailments.

A common pattern is that I tend to have a cluster of distractions at the beginning of starting a task. It also shows that I experienced more derailment in reading Bulger (2016), including having to make a note of the reference I located for my manuscript, as well as deciding to send Bulger (2016) to my work colleagues.

In contrast, I experienced less derailment while reading Tsai, Perrotta & Gasevic (2020). This is likely caused by my being conscious of data being recorded, and I was working harder to block out distracting thoughts. Also towards the end I dozed off. This may suggest reading at 11pm would be counterproductive.

Overall, I have used this week’s data collection and visualisation exercise to reflect on my learning behaviour and attempt to derive insights from it. It taught me to expect distraction clusters at the start of a task, and hence additional effort is needed at the beginning of a task so as to make sure the task can be completed.

5 thoughts on “Week 4 Drawing

  1. ‘I decided to go more microscopic and manually record the distractions I experienced while reading the Bulger (2016) paper and the Tsai, Perrotta & Gasevic (2020) paper.’

    Useful direction for this week – I think it is interesting that data is perceived to be able to give us the ‘big picture’ as well as the detail, in ways that other methods are sometimes not.

    ‘Whenever the distraction caused me to consciously put down the paper and did something else, I logged the times at which I put down and pick up the paper, and also record some qualitative details about the distraction (or rather, “derailment”).’

    This is a really interesting focus, and links to some of the wider debates about ‘attention’, and the supposed impact of social media browsing on our ability to engage with longer reads – I wonder if this was something you were conscious of when scoping this visualisation.

    ‘I have tried multiple times to get used to reading journal articles on electronic devices, as opposed to printing them out.’

    Me too! I’ve toyed with the idea of getting something with an e-ink screen, but never gotten around to it. The lockdown has kind of forced me to read on screen now though!

    ‘(1) Bulger (2016) was significantly longer than Tsai, Perrotta & Gasevic (2020); (2) I started reading Tsai, Perrotta & Gasevic (2020) much later than Bulger (2016) despite being on a different day.’

    Yes, and I suspect there are qualitative aspects to this too. Some authors, at least for me, just write in a more engaging way. When the prose is ‘better’, I’m sure I stay reading for longer!

    The choice of mark-making here is really clever, I think. The curly line diverging and returning to the straight line seems to be such a direct way of conveying distraction – I felt I didn’t need to read the key so much with this one, which says something about the visual communication. I also thought that the colours give something of a ‘positive spin’ on the idea of a ‘distraction’, which is often viewed as entirely negative.

    Great that you derived some useful insights here too – I often find there is a threshold with readings, once I’m past it I’ll stay to the end. I guess this could be useful for writing too: make sure your introduction keeps people reading!

  2. It’s interesting that you thought feeling concious of being recorded may have changed your behaviour. I also felt very aware when I logged my reading last week and kept wondering how my learning would change if I was constantly monitored. Do you think it would affect your behaviour? Or would you forget about it after a while?

    • Hi Susanne, thank you for taking interest in this drawing!

      I would say being conscious of manually logging my distraction footprint caused a cognitive dissonance (or having contradicting thoughts):
      1. Should I indulge myself in my distraction, and then accept my fate and log it truthfully on my logbook
      2. Should I work harder to pull myself together, so that I don’t have to log it?
      3. What if I forget about logging it???

      You comments also made me consider whether by employing set-and-forget type of system would allow me to record more truthful data.

  3. Hi Enoch,
    Likewise, I am trying to think of all the variables in the situation I am studying but it’s just so hard to do.
    I wonder if we all imagine there is a best way to read; that we *should* be reading without our brains wandering off. Is that really ideal? Is that actually possible?

  4. Pingback: Commentary on the data visualisation task | Enoch Chan’s Data Visualisation Blog

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