Making a Case for Hci: Comparing Materials for Case-based Teaching


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Department of Computer Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University


This paper investigates case-based methods for bridging the conflicting goals of providing both topic coverage and practical experience in teaching humancomputer interaction (HCI). Case-based methods rely on design, development, and testing material for existing or on-going projects to provide details on difficult decisions and solutions in the interface creation process. Cases are touted as alternatives to real experience (immensely important in HCI courses) and provide rich environments for computer science instruction. We evaluate benefits and limitations of five types of case materials--contemporary articles, professionally prepared cases, familiar interfaces, ongoing development projects, and incomplete information (jigsaw)--to probe how they should be structured and approached by an HCI instructor. Through an experience that assessed case-based activities in an undergraduate HCI course, we determined tradeoffs relating to student participation, preparation characteristics, and short- and long-term learning outcomes. Professionally prepared case materials provided a sense of comfort in preparation, but were surpassed by familiar interfaces in terms of performance and post-use feedback, leading to recommendations for case materials development and adoption of case-based learning for HCI. Based on our results, we can make several conclusions that should influence selection and development of materials for casebased pedagogy, and we illustrate the need for structured case creation processes that can be performed conjointly with system development efforts.



Human-computer interaction