Evaluation of the Project-based Learning Approach in Activating Theory for Intro to Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) students

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Brian Fisher, School of Interactive Arts & Technology

Project team: Aldo Barrera, research assistant, and Barbara Berry, CEE

Timeframe: January 2019 to May 2021

Funding: $5950

Course addressed: IAT 201 – Human-Computer Interaction and Cognition

Final report: View Brian Fisher's:

Description: In this course, students as novice Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) designers are taught to consider cognitive science theory as it applies to the design of user interfaces. We want to find out how useful the problem-based learning (PBL) approach is and specifically scaffolded tasks are in supporting students to learn to apply the theoretical content that is being taught in the lectures.

The results of our work will inform the revision of the current PBL approach being used, and we anticipate that the results will help us to develop a Teaching Assistant manual for facilitating PBL in future deliveries of this course. Finally, we have applied a similar approach in IAT 351 and we believe that lessons from this inquiry will inform the design and implementation of PBLs in this course as well.

Questions addressed:

  • How effective is the PBL at assisting students to apply cognitive theories in relation to a design action?
  • How does the DeDe task that is included in the PBL enable students to demonstrate the learning outcomes for a particular component?
  • What are the informational and instructional requirements for the teaching assistants to coach students in using the PBLs in IAT 201 in the future?

Knowledge sharing: I have had multiple discussions with our UCC, Associated Director, and Director about the outcomes and the possibility of better integrating this course with others in the curriculum. I have worked with instructors for IAT 309 Writing for Research to better prepare students for their course.

Keywords:  Problem-based learning, design thinking, cognitive psychology, design science