March 18, 2005
There are inherent challenges in teaching and learning Artificial Intelligence (AI) due to the complex dynamics of the many fundamental AI concepts and algorithms. Interactive visualization tools have the potential to overcome these challenges. However, there are reservations towards adopting interactive visualizations due to mixed results on their pedagogical effectiveness. Previous work has also often failed to directly assess student preferences and motivation. CIspace is a set of nine interactive visualization tools demonstrating fundamental principles in AI. The CIspace tools are currently in use in undergraduate and graduate classrooms at the University of British Columbia and around the world. In this paper, we present two experiments aimed at assessing the effectiveness of one the tools in terms of knowledge gain and user preference. Our results provide evidence that the tool is as effective as a traditionally accepted form of learning in terms of knowledge gain, and that students significantly prefer to use the tools over traditional forms of study. These results strengthen the case for the incorporation of CIspace, and other interactive visualizations, into courses.