Learning lab in IST 331

Frank Ritter

16 sep 2014/revised sep15


In this lab you will explore how people learn, an important component of human behaviour, including with respect to human-computer interaction.

Prior to the lab you should prepare a task for subjects to perform. This task should take between 30 sec and 2 minutes on their first trial. You should prepare instructions as well, as you will be having someone from another group perform the task. If the task is longer than 2 minutes, it gets hard to run 10 trials. If it is less than 30 s, it may get hard to time as the subjects get faster. 30-120 s is a rough estimate. anywhere from 30 seconds to 210 seconds is likely to work, and greater or lesser amounts will to a certain extent. The task should have some relationship to your class project, but does not have to.

In the lab, you will run 3 to 5 subjects on your task. These subjects will come from other groups.

The subjects should each perform the task at least 15 times. You may choose to run 5 subjects on the task 15 times (at most, 5 subjects x 2 minutes x 15 times ~ 100 minutes, so you will have to run in parallel), or you might choose to run 3 subjects over a longer series of trials. You will probably have to split your group in two, some to be subjects for another group, the others running subjects on your task.

You should record the time to perform the task each time, and note if the subject made any errors, significant errors, or catastrophic errors. Some of these suggest that something besides normal learning was going on, or that a trial was unusual.

At the end of the first hour, we will attempt to prepare a spreadsheet noting the times from each group. (This graph may be prepared outside of class.)

In your writeup of the lab, you should

  1. An abstract summarizing the project (authored, data, etc.)
  2. A very short intro including why the task is interesting (Introduction)
  3. Note what your group did, in terms of (Method)
    1. the subjects (type and number)
    2. the task
    3. how they did the task
    4. how many times they did the task
  4. Provide an analysis, including a plot, of how long it took your subjects (Results)
    You should provide this plot for each subject, or a big plot,
    and an average (across all subjects) plot on both log-log and linear coordinates.
  5. You should discuss what it means (Discussion and Conclusions)
  6. You should make reference to any of the readings (such as the ABCS) and to the group plot.
    1. about your task
    2. for learning in general
    3. for HCI
    4. for business or some other application
    5. Any other impact or comments on learning
  7. at least two references. you will be graded on doing this and well you do this and your choice of references
  8. You should send the TA your averaged data for a class plot.

The resulting paper should be written in concise but precise terms and is likely to be between 5 and 8 pages. You will find that figures and tables can take up room.