Author Topic: Theoretical Frameworks for Human Computer Interaction  (Read 2070 times)

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Theoretical Frameworks for Human Computer Interaction
« on: August 21, 2011, 03:59:28 am »
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Author : Prerna Zalpuri, Divya Khandelwal, Isha Yadav
International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research Volume 2, Issue 6, June-2011
ISSN 2229-5518
Download Full Paper : PDF

Abstract: This paper is concerned about the state of theory in HCI and discusses the adequacy of current theoretical frameworks that have been proposed for HCI. These findings are based on our study of these frameworks and their application on various systems under study.
Approaches such as activity theory, cognitive ergonomics and distributed cognition are three theoretical frameworks explaining co-operative work. Each of them is applied on multiple case studies describing different work settings. But those work settings usually refer to different work realities, so it is difficult to properly compare those viewpoints. So we analyzed the same work setting, with the three different frameworks mentioned above. The report does not pretend to give detailed case studies but aims to underline how approaches which explain co-operative work can be used to analysed a same work situation. This will allow us to compare the relevant questions each theory is asking and should answer when studying a co-operative work situation.
Index terms: Activity Theory, Artefacts, Cognition, Cognitive Ergonomics, Context, Distributed Cognition, Human Computer Interaction(HCI)   
 
1.  INTRODUCTION
Human-computer interaction (HCI) lies at the intersection between the social and behavioral sciences on the one hand, and computer and in-formation technology on the other. It is concerned with understanding how people make use of devices and systems that incorporate or embed computation, and how such devices and systems can be more use-ful and more usable.

It is not possible to fully understand how people learn or work if the unit of study is the unaided individual with no access to other people or to artifacts for accomplishing the task at hand. Thus we are motivated to study context to understand relations among individuals, artifacts, and social groups.
 HCI specialists will be most valuable to designers when we can provide
(1) a broad background of comparative under-standing over many domains,
 (2) high-level analyses useful for evaluating the im-pact of major design decisions, and
(3) information that suggests actual designs rather than simply general design guidelines or metrics for evaluation. To be able to provide such expertise, we must develop an appropriate analytical abstraction that discards irrelevant details while isolating and emphasizing those properties of artifacts and situations that are most significant for design.

We look at the unit of analysis proposed by each ap-proach, the categories offered to support a de-scription of context, the extent to which each treats action as structured prior to or during activity, and the stance toward the conceptual equivalence of people and things.
Activity theory, cognition ergonomics, and distributed cognition are evolving frameworks and will change and grow as each is exercised with empirical study.

2.   ACTIVITY THEORY
Activity theory is a theoretical framework for the study of different forms of human practices as de-velopment progresses, with both individual & social levels linked at the same time.
This framework uses ‘activity’ as the basic unit for studying human practices.
The activity triangle model incorporates the
Subjects, Object, and Community components; also mediators of human activity, namely: Tools, Rules and the Division of Labour.
The ‘Object’ component reflects the motivational or purposeful nature of human activity that allows hu-mans to control their own behaviour.
The ‘Subjects’ component of the model portrays both the individual and social nature of human activity as reflected through collaborations and consultations in order to satisfy a shared objective.
The ‘Tools’ component of the model reflects the
mediating aspects of human activity through the  use of both physical and conceptual tools.
Physical tools are used to handle or manipulate objects whilst conceptual tools are used to influence behaviour in one way or another.
The ‘Community’ component of the model puts the analysis of the activity being investigated into the social and cultural context of the environment in which the subject operates.
The Rules component highlights the fact that within a community of actors, there are bound to be rules and regulations that affect in one way or another the means by which activity is carried out.
The Division of Labour component refers to the allocation of responsibilities and variations in job roles of the subjects as they carry out activity in the community.

3.   COGNITIVE ERGONOMICS
Cognitive engineering is an emerging branch of ergonomics that places particular emphasis on the analysis of cognitive processes – e.g., diagno-sis, decision making and planning – required of operators in modern industries.

Ergonomic interventions in the area of cognitive tasks require a thorough understanding, not only of the demands of the work situation, but also of user strategies in performing cognitive tasks and of limitations in human cognition. In some cases, the artifacts or tools used to carry out a task may impose their own constraints and limitations (e.g., navigating through a large number of GUI screens); in fact tools co-determine the very nature of the task. In this sense, the analysis of cognitive tasks should examine both the interaction of users with their work setting and the user interaction with artifacts or tools; the latter is very important as modern artifacts (e.g., control panels, software, expert systems) become increasingly sophisticated. Emphasis lies on how to design human-machine interfaces and cognitive artifacts so that human performance is sustained in work environments where information may be unreliable, events may be difficult to predict, multiple simultaneous goals may be in conflict, and performance may be time constrained. Typical domains of application include process control rooms (chemical plants, air traffic), command and control centers, operating theaters and other supervisory control systems. It focuses on the fit between human cognitive abilities and limitations and the machine, task, environment.

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