A principled way of assessing visualization literacy

Jeremy Boy, Ronald A. Rensink, Enrico Bertini, Jean Daniel Fekete

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    We describe a method for assessing the visualization literacy (VL) of a user. Assessing how well people understand visualizations has great value for research (e. g., to avoid confounds), for design (e. g., to best determine the capabilities of an audience), for teaching (e. g., to assess the level of new students), and for recruiting (e. g., to assess the level of interviewees). This paper proposes a method for assessing VL based on Item Response Theory. It describes the design and evaluation of two VL tests for line graphs, and presents the extension of the method to bar charts and scatterplots. Finally, it discusses the reimplementation of these tests for fast, effective, and scalable web-based use.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number6875906
    Pages (from-to)1963-1972
    Number of pages10
    JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
    Issue number12
    StatePublished - Dec 31 2014


    • Item response theory
    • Literacy
    • Rasch model
    • Visualization literacy

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Software
    • Signal Processing
    • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
    • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design


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