Haptic explorers: Supporting science journaling through mobile haptic feedback displays

Bri Hightower, Silvia Lovato, Jordan Davison, Ellen Wartella, Anne Marie Piper*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Mobile devices are promising for enabling young children to document and reflect on science-related phenomena in their world. Yet, tactile information, which is central to early science learning, is lost when interacting with traditional mobile devices. We present Haptic Explorers, an application for the TPaD Phone that allows learners to capture and annotate images with audio and haptic feedback. We describe the design of this application and an evaluation with 35 children (aged 5–7) during a science summer camp. We found that children using haptic devices included more tactile descriptors when reflecting on the contents of their notebook and were on-task more often than their peers in the non-haptic group. Our results also suggest that haptic feedback is relevant for learning activities that involve concrete observation and when tactile sensory information aids in making descriptive comparisons. We discuss the potential for mobile haptic feedback displays to support early science inquiry and multimodal science talk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-112
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Human Computer Studies
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • Children
  • Haptic feedback
  • Mobile devices
  • Science learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Education
  • Engineering(all)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Hardware and Architecture


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