Comparing the use of tangible and graphical programming languages for informal science education

Michael S. Horn, Erin T. Solovey, R. Jordan Crouser, Robert J K Jacob

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

139 Scopus citations

Abstract

Much of the work done in the field of tangible interaction has focused on creating tools for learning; however, in many cases, little evidence has been provided that tangible interfaces offer educational benefits compared to more conventional interaction techniques. In this paper, we present a study comparing the use of a tangible and a graphical interface as part of an interactive computer programming and robotics exhibit that we designed for the Boston Museum of Science. In this study, we have collected observations of 260 museum visitors and conducted interviews with 13 family groups. Our results show that visitors found the tangible and the graphical systems equally easy to understand. However, with the tangible interface, visitors were significantly more likely to try the exhibit and significantly more likely to actively participate in groups. In turn, we show that regardless of the condition, involving multiple active participants leads to significantly longer interaction times. Finally, we examine the role of children and adults in each condition and present evidence that children are more actively involved in the tangible condition, an effect that seems to be especially strong for girls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCHI 2009
Subtitle of host publicationDigital Life New World - Proceedings of the 27th International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Pages975-984
Number of pages10
DOIs
StatePublished - 2009
Event27th International Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2009 - Boston, MA, United States
Duration: Apr 4 2009Apr 9 2009

Publication series

NameConference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Proceedings

Other

Other27th International Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2009
CountryUnited States
CityBoston, MA
Period4/4/094/9/09

Keywords

  • Children
  • Education
  • Informal science education
  • Museums
  • Programming languages
  • Tangible user interfaces
  • Tern

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design

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