User Interface Design Pedagogy: A Constructionist Approach

User Interface Design Pedagogy: A Constructionist Approach

Benjamin K.S. Khoo (New York Institute of Technology, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-468-0.ch008
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A major limitation in traditional class lectures that uses textbooks, handouts, transparencies and assignments is that students often are unable to “experience” user interface design. This limitation can be overcome by using the constructionist approach that allow students to experience user interface design by allowing them to “do” or “construct” so that they can understand and remember. This paper describes an Internet-based interactive case scenario that was developed, based on the constructionist approach, to teach students user interface design concepts in conjunction with the Questionnaire for User Interaction Satisfaction (QUIS). A proof of concept evaluation was conducted and the results indicate that this approach is effective in user interface design pedagogy.
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Literature Review

Constructionism is a major principle in contemporary education theory and a strategy for learning. There are two facets to constructionism - that learning takes place as a result of actively constructing new knowledge and that learning is effective when “constructing” or “doing” activities that are personally meaningful. It is widely accepted in educational circles that an important part of the learning process consists of “hands-on” construction. Constructionism has been supported by the success of children educational activities based on building blocks (Resnick, 1991). It is a well-established methodology for learning (Papert, 1991; Resnick, 1991). The constructionist approach uses constructive tasks to impart knowledge. Its goal is to develop creativity and motivate learning through activity. Constructionism asserts that knowledge is not simply transmitted from the teacher to students, but is actively constructed in the mind of the learner through various hands-on activities. In addition, it suggests that learners make their ideas by constructing their own knowledge structures. It has been shown that learning is more effective when it is activity-based rather than passively received (Brown, et al, 1989). The active “constructing” or “doing” tasks leads to discovery.

The concept of discovery learning is not new. Discovery learning can be described as experimentation with some extrinsic intervention -- clues, coaching, a framework to help learners get to a reasonable conclusion. It has appeared many times in educational philosophy, Dewey stated “there is an intimate and necessary relation between the processes of actual experience and education” (Dewey, 1938). It is also supported by learning theorists/psychologists such as Piaget, Bruner, and Papert, “Insofar as possible, a method of instruction should have the objective of leading the child to discover for himself.” (Bruner, 1967). But it has never received overwhelming acceptance even though it has enjoyed a few positive swings of the educational-trend pendulum in American education (Jacobs, 1992).

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