An in-the-wild study of learning to brainstorm: Comparing cards, tabletops and wall displays in the classroom

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Interacting with Computers, 2016, 28 (6), pp. 788 - 810
Issue Date:
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© 2016 The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The British Computer Society. Single display interactive groupware interfaces have the potential to effectively support small group work in classrooms. Our work aimed to gain understanding needed to realize that potential. First, we wanted to study how learners use these large interactive displays, compared with a more traditional method within classrooms. Second, we wanted to fill gaps in the current understanding of the effectiveness of interactive tables versus walls. Third, we wanted to do this out of the laboratory setting, in authentic classrooms, with their associated constraints. We conducted an in-the-wild study, with 51 design students, working in 14 groups, learning the brainstorming technique. Each group practiced brainstorming in three classrooms: one with vertical displays (walls); another with multi-touch tabletops; and the third with pens and index cards. The published literature suggested that tabletops would be better than the other conditions for key factors of cooperative participation, mutual awareness, maintaining interest and affective measures. Contrary to this, we found that the horizontal and vertical displays both had similar levels of benefit over the conventional method. It was only for affective measures that tabletops were better than walls. All conditions were similar for our several measures of outcome quality. We discuss the implications of our findings for designing future classrooms.
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