Designing Interfaces that Stimulate Ideational Super-fluency


  • Sharon Oviatt



interface design, user interface, education, learning environments, learning / design d'interface, interface d'utilisateur, éducation, environnements d'étude, étudier


Current graphical keyboard and mouse interfaces are better suited for handling mechanical tasks, like email and text editing, than they are at supporting focused problem solving or complex learning tasks. One reason is that graphical interfaces limit users’ ability to fluidly express content involving different representational systems (e.g., symbols, diagrams) as they think through steps during complex problem solutions. We asked: Can interfaces be designed that actively stimulate students’ ability to “think on paper,” including providing better support for both ideation and convergent problem solving? In this talk, we will summarize new research on the affordances of different types of interface (e.g., pen-based, keyboard-based), and how these basic computer input capabilities function to substantially facilitate or impede people’s ideational fluency. We also will show data on the relation between interface support for communicative fluency (i.e., both linguistic and non-linguistic forms) and ideational fluency. In addition, we’ll discuss the relation between interface support for active marking (i.e., both formal structures like diagrams, and informal ones such as “thinking marks”) and successful problem solving. Finally, we’ll present new data on interfaces that improve support for learning and performance in lower-performing populations, and we will discuss how these new directions in interface media could play a role in improving their education and minimizing the persistent achievement gap between low- versus high-performing groups







Reprint (Original published 2009)