Journal article

Using Mobile Eye-Trackers to Unpack the Perceptual Benefits of a Tangible User Interface for Collaborative Learning

In this study, we investigated the way users memorize, analyze, collaborate, and learn new concepts on a Tangible User Interface (TUI). Twenty-seven pairs of apprentices in logistics (N = 54) interacted with an interactive simulation of a warehouse. Their task was to discover efficient design principles for building storehouses. In a between-subjects experimental design, half of the participants used 3D physical shelves, whereas the other half used 2D paper shelves. This manipulation allowed us to control for the "representational effect" of 3D tangibles: the first group saw the warehouse as a small-scale model with realistic shelves, whereas the second group had access to a more abstract layout with rectangular pieces of paper. Both groups interacted with the system in the same way. We found that participants in the first group (i.e., who used 3D realistic shelves) better memorized a warehouse layout, built a more efficient model, and scored higher on a learning test. Additionally, students wore eye-tracking goggles while completing those tasks; preliminary results suggest that 3D interfaces increased joint visual attention, which was found to be a significant predictor for participants' task performance and learning gains. Implications for designing TUIs in collaborative settings are discussed.


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