Physical games or digital games? Comparing support for mental projection in tangible and virtual representations of a problem-solving task

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Conference Proceeding
TEI 2013 - Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction, 2013, pp. 167 - 174
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This paper explores how different interfaces to a problemsolving task affect how users perform it. Specifically, it focuses on a customized version of the game of Four-in-arow and compares play on a physical, tangible game board with that conducted in mouse and touch-screen driven virtual versions. This is achieved through a repeated measures study involving a total of 36 participants and which explicitly assesses aspects of cognitive work through measures of time task, subjective workload, the projection of mental constructs onto external structures and the occurrence of explanatory epistemic actions. The results highlight the relevance of projection and epistemic action to this problem-solving task and suggest that the different interface forms afford instantiation of these activities in different ways. The tangible version of the system supports the most rapid execution of these actions and future work on this topic should explore the unique advantages of tangible interfaces in supporting epistemic actions. Copyright 2013 ACM.
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