An empirical study of the “prototype walkthrough”: a studio-based activity for HCI education

Hundhausen, C. D.; Fairbrother, D. and Petre, M. (2012). An empirical study of the “prototype walkthrough”: a studio-based activity for HCI education. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI), 19(4), article no. 26.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/2395131.2395133

Abstract

For over a century, studio-based instruction has served as an effective pedagogical model in architecture and fine arts education. Because of its design orientation, human-computer interaction (HCI) education is an excellent venue for studio-based instruction. In an HCI course, we have been exploring a studio-based learning activity called the prototype walkthrough, in which a student project team simulates its evolving user interface prototype while a student audience member acts as a test user. The audience is encouraged to ask questions and provide feedback. We have observed that prototype walkthroughs create excellent conditions for learning about user interface design. In order to better understand the educational value of the activity, we performed a content analysis of a video corpus of 16 prototype walkthroughs held in two HCI courses. We found that the prototype walkthrough discussions were dominated by relevant design issues. Moreover, mirroring the justification behavior of the expert instructor, students justified over 80 percent of their design statements and critiques, with nearly one-quarter of those justifications having a theoretical or empirical basis. Our findings suggest that PWs provide valuable opportunities for students to actively learn HCI design by participating in authentic practice, and provide insight into how such opportunities can be best promoted.

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