classinsight project header image

ClassInSight: IoT data visualization for teachers


Dr. Amy Ogan - principal advisor
Franceska Xhakaj - principal investigator
Katrina Hu - research assistant
Amy Luo - research assistant
Emma Jiang - research assistant


ClassInSight is a project that investigates how smart classrooms can sense in-class activities and provide feedback and training to novice instructors at the college and university level. Currently, the project focuses on helping instructors improve their in-classroom discursive practices, such as asking more content-based questions increase student participation and engagement.

I began working with the ClassInSight team in Fall 2020, after the preliminary classroom data collection and user interviews had taken place. My role in this project was to derive insights from the consolidated data and create informed prototype designs of the final ClassInSight user dashboard. For the most part, the process of my work in this project followed this flow:

classinsight project process flow Disclaimer: The scope of this project is huge - this process flow just contains everything I was directly involved in.


How might the ClassInSight interface provide teachers with clear, actionable, & persuasive nonverbal data that will encourage them to improve their immediacy behaviors?

Data Analysis

data analysis sample picture

We began with a thematic analysis of instructor interviews. In the interviews, instructors were shown their nonverbal classroom behavior data (e.g. relative location within the classroom, gaze distribution - % of time that they spent looking at students, their device, the board, etc.). The interview questions prompted teachers to discuss their assessment of the data, other data that they would like to see, and their goals for improving their nonverbal behaviors in the classroom.


1. Teachers are interested in classroom data.

They want to see data on their own behaviors as well as those of their students in order to understand and explore the link between classroom data and classroom performance.

2. Teachers expressed a desire to improve their nonverbal classroom behaviors.

Providing teachers with better resources and insights is a crucial step in identifying opportunities to improve the educational experience for both the teacher and the student.

3. There are technological, physical, and social barriers that prevent change in the classroom.

Being aware of these obstacles (such as classroom size, furniture, device setup) allows us to tailor our solutions to address each individual teacher's unique classroom challenges.

4. There's a tradeoff between time and training.

Many teachers are pressed for time - they want data that's easy to interpret and translate into goals. We need to identify teachers' highest-priority data and present this information in a goal-setting context.

Initial Data Visualization Designs

With these conclusions in mind, our team began our prototyping phase. We started out by making sketches of potential dashboard elements based on our user interview insights.

portrait This sketch is a "dashboard" of one class session that tracks student vs. teacher engagement over time by classroom activity.

gaze data visualization sketches gaze data visualization sketches Left: Gaze breakdowns that represent where students/teachers are looking during class, and for how much of the time.
Right: Interaction trackers that help teachers become more aware of how they interact with students of different demographics.

In my initial sketches, I tried to find different ways to represent the data that we were able to collect from each class session. I wanted these data visualizations to be easily interpretable, particularly in regards to the correlation between teacher behavior and student engagement.

Refining Data Visualization Designs

The ultimate goal of this project is to use ClassInSight's smart classroom data to motivate and persuade teachers to change their nonverbal behaviors in the classroom. Our initial designs were data representations. So now, the question was: how can we use these representations to persuade, motivate, and inform?

goals recap We referenced this flow of synthesizing existing data with motivational theories and goal-oriented insights to facilitate the goal-setting that would ultimately lead to the teachers' desired behavior changes.

engagement data visualization sketches engagement data visualization sketches These charts explore different perspectives of assessing nonverbal behavior performance, such as engagement vs. students' exam scores, or tracking short-term change vs. long-term change.

gaze data visualization sketches location data visualization sketche I also played around with different types of visual representations, such as heatmaps/highlights.

Some important elements I began to incorporate were insights (on the side), goal-setting mechanisms, and drop-down menus for teachers to select exactly what kind of data was most important to them. I noticed in some of the user interviews that the data that teachers considered as important metrics for engagement often differed across discipline and course level. These new designs reflect these needs by offering more flexibility in what data is being viewed and increasing convenience in both performance assessment and goal-setting.

I also went more in depth with some of my previous designs: portrait portraitportrait These charts give the teacher a visual breakdown of their class engagement over time. I wanted teachers to easily see the direct imapct how the class engagement changes with certain behaviors, such as changing the class activity, making eye contact, or shifting their location.

Refining Data Visualization Designs, Again

insights and goal setting sketches I refined this data visualization element to include expanded insights and goal-setting tools. This is a view of what the chart and corresponding insights might look like at different points in the lecture.

heatmap sketches I also expanded on the heatmap designs to include the bottom bar with the engagement chart. Since single points in time can't be represented on heatmaps, I came up with a couple of ideas for adjusting the heatmap timeframe.

Consolidating Designs Into a Dashboard

For this stage of the project, I reconvened with my teammates! We got together and spliced together the parts of our data visualization designs that we thought were best suited to giving teachers clear and helpful feedback on their nonverbal classroom behaviors. We put everything onto a Figma board and started messing around with different configurations and layouts.

our figma board A relatively organized section of our Figma board

At this stage, we're aiming to refine our designs and finalize them before going into user studies.


ClassInSight was a really exciting and interesting project for me to work on as it involves a ton of research, data analysis, and detailed prototyping work. It's also really meaningful to provide real value to a demographic of users that I have a lot of admiration for. I've learned some important takeaways related to UX research and interaction design.

Identifying and prioritizing important data

ClassInSight's sensors provided us with a lot of data. It was definitely too much to cram into one UI without causing information overload. Using our qualitative data analysis insights, our team had to determine which types of data provided the most value for teachers. We then based our designs around representing the most important data in the most accessible way.

Designing flexible interfaces for a diverse user base

Even within the small group of teachers we worked with, we saw a difference in priorities and data interests based on factors such as the course subject, course level, or tenure. We integrated various features that would allow teachers to customize their data insights to best match their class and priorities.

This section of the project concluded with Franceska's (now Dr. Xhakaj!) successful thesis defense in July 2021.