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Research Proposal: Human Computer Interaction (HCI) Essay Sample

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Research Proposal: Human Computer Interaction (HCI) Essay Sample


We are passing through the era of Information technology (IT) where the mainstream framework for HCI research as well as the information-processing cognitive psychology has achieved auxiliary and more criticism reasoning of serious problems with research and practical design. In a planned within HCI Research the potentiality of information processing psychology has to justify with theoretical frameworks. Here we presented an overview of the circumstances and discusses potentials of activity as a surrogate framework for HCI research and design.

1) Preliminaries:

Interaction between users and computers is called Human–computer interaction (HCI). This is a corelated subject that  relating computer science with so many fields of study and research. Interaction between the user and  the computers occurs at the user interface includes both software and hardware. It is concerned with the design, evaluation and implementation of interactive computing systems for human use and with the study of major phenomena adjacent them.

By making computers more user-friendly and receptive to the user’s needs to develop the interaction between users and computers is the altimate objectives of HCI . Thus HCI is concerned with Methodologies and Processes of designing interfaces. These interfaces are given as design the best possible interface within given constraints; a task and a class of users or efficiency of use.

The methods to implement interfaces include software toolkits and libraries; an efficient algorithm, techniques for evaluating and comparing interfaces; developing new interfaces and interaction techniques developing descriptive and predictive models and theories of interaction.

An interactive graphics program on a workstation where classical situation is a person using. At the same time it is clear that varying what is meant by interaction, human, while we might not wish to exclude them as part of human-computer interaction, we would, nevertheless,  and machine leads to a rich space of possible topics, some of which, wish to identify as peripheral to its focus. Other topics we would wish to identify as more central.

This is an interdisciplinary subject, relating computer science with many other fields of study and research. Interaction between users and computers occurs at the user interface (or simply interface), which includes both software and hardware, for example, general-purpose computer peripherals and large-scale mechanical systems such as aircraft and power plants.

2) Introduction:

Here in this proposal I will describe an intended study in the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), focusing on human factors and ergonomics, in relation to the design and use of computers. The Ergonomics can be specified as the scientific, interdisciplinary study of individuals and their physical relationship to the work environment.  At the same time as stated some of the primary concerns of HCI for ergonomic and human factor specialists consist of workstation, hardware and software design aspects that is concerned with physiological effects on humans.

From this point of view the study proposes to scrutinize factors that influence the suitability of a workstation. It will attempt to identify if these factors are being adequately satisfied the outcomes of use of the workstation. This investigative assessment will be composed of two primary mechanisms and that is an on-line questionnaire and a physical test of the workstations at the Informatory.

In this Research Proposal we shall conduct case study considering a given workplace in terms of the aforesaid factors of HCI with the view of giving recommendations to improve the location and environmental aspect. Here is an opportunity to consider human factors and ergonomics when workstations are designed and a great thought has gone to developing an ergonomically sound workstation. It is only true when people do not utilise the available facilities correctly. Simultaneously this Research Proposal will determine the degree and contact of the factors that influence usability will be beneficial for users.

3) Literature Search (survey)

This Research proposal will be examined to provide a theoretical basis for the study. There are two broad areas that will be covered in the assessment. They are ergonomics in relation to computers covering the physical human and environmental factors and aspects of HCI covering psychological aspects and software interfacing and so on.

The facets of ergonomics that will be covered in the literature review take account of how the physical environment can contribute to muscular-skeletal problems; how eye nervous tension and burning eyes and blurred vision; how focusing difficulties caused headaches and how such troubles can be combated or avoided.

Predominantly how people distinguish their environment will be examined as well as how this influences their perception and understanding of the graphic representations of software designs on screen. What the things will be explored in this section are the type of interaction styles used and the impact they have on the user. The core course of focus would be the advantages and disadvantages of a system as opposed to a command-line entry system and the influence thereof.

Second segment of this proposal should involve the application of the diagnostic evaluation of the Informatory. This assessment will consist of two parts and the first one is Survey of students using the Informatory.  This appraisal will be a web-based instrument that will be loaded as part of the login procedure. The survey will be administered to cover questions concerning the user’s perceptions. On the other hand Ergonomic study of the Informatory is a detailed study will be conducted addressing the physical layout and setting of Labs in the Informatory and the operating systems of the computers.

The survey will attempt to speak to users opinions of specific ergonomic and HCI factors and will be used together with the physical ergonomic examination of the Informatorium in order to categorize relationships and discrepancies in the diagnostic evaluation and as well as to gain a more accurate measure.

In the last phase the gathered data from the web survey and ergonomic study will be analysed and then integrated with existing literature. This will provide explanations for the conclusion. Conclusions can be drawn regarding the current efficiency of the Informatorium’s HCI, and recommendations can be made concerning ways to develop.

4) Analysis

The mental models are the representations of our minds that allow us to forecast the outcome of proceedings in the world. Human interaction with the world requires one is the mental model can be as simple as understanding how seriousness works when we jump down a ball.  As complex as the way you fly a plane. These models allow us to function as thinking beings in the world by providing us a way to identify with how the world works.

Humans’ function similarly interacting with machines and there is a mental model that predicts how a machine will react given a particular action taken by the client. Though these models illustrate the behavior of software. The software is a non-physical object and it function is the same way. It is important to leverage off of our understanding of mental models in the authentic world.

Mental models of the transportation out an object evolve over time as a person interacts with that object. In the case of computers people’s mental models of a computer’s behavior starts to build up when the person first use it. Computers have the capability to present an interface to the user that is unlike anything the user has encountered before. Thus, it will require the formation of a completely new mental model. Interface designers have taken this fact to their mind and have created interfaces that in many ways behave in a way similar to the real world objects.

The mental models have already been developed. The interface designers make computers easier to learn. Users have a great deal of understanding using menus in restaurants. Using a menu to select actions to perform transfers the mental model that the people have for menus in the real world keen on the domain of computer interaction. Definitely the menus are varied and can be complex interfaces to navigate. People use them to interact with computers quite gracefully.

5) Design

According to Bannon the most important outward show of the on-going change is a new vision of human beings. The anthology of attributes with cognitive processors is a view not unusual in the mainstream cognitive psychology. Within the human factors approach, it is often reduced to being an additional system component with certain characteristics.  Such as limited attention span and faulty memory those need to be factored into the design equation for the overall human-machine system. In this form of piecemeal analysis of the person as a set of apparatus de-emphasizes important issues in work design

Let us consider the trends that Bannon has been recognizing in the recent HCI research. One of them is associated with problems with prearranged fixed requirements for products have caused developers to recognize that to understand what is really needed.  The situation it must be worked out with users that may be a long and cooperative process not at all an initial asking of some questions. As an alternative of one separated individual it has been largely recognized that features of cooperation and communication including coordination are often vital in the successful performing of tasks. Thus HCI research seeking practical significance cannot restrict itself only to the study of individual acts.

Another issue has identified and that is the diminishing reliance to laboratory experiments. They are restricted and artificial laboratory experiments have been in favour in much of the HCI research but there exists a certain tendency to move closer to real work practices and actual demands they pose.

The third issue has been the growing identification that use of the systems is in real life a long-term process that cannot be adequately understood by studying just the initial steps of it. A large part of HCI research has studied only unproven users and usually during a relatively short period. In real life people develop their skills during longer periods and this skill-achieving dynamics and its factors have got too little emphasis in research. Bannon has also found evidence that emphasis in design has been increasing. HCI research has many times concentrated on evaluating some features of existing designs and judging their appropriateness in the situation. However, design would need more advice on how to do those features right already in the design phase and  not afterwards.

The keenness to involve users into the design process has been growing and that has led towards iterative design. When the problems in system use badly surfaced during the 1980s, a term “user-centered” was taken into use to describe that designers have to study user populations much more carefully than it had been usual. Studying users from “outside” by designers is not enough, however, but users must be involved into the design process itself. When users are drawn into the design process, it is not self-evident, however, that they can easily articulate the real demands of situations, because they do not usually fully understand all the possibilities offered by information technology. They need some food for their thoughts in order to imagine what the future situation might be like. This will lead towards the iterative type of design.

Bannon summarises his findings using following slogans:

  • From Product to Process in Research and Design,
  • From Individuals to Groups,
  • From the Laboratory to the Workplace,
  • From Novices to Experts,
  • From Analysis to Design,
  • From User-Centered to User-Involved Design,
  • From User Requirements Specifications to Iterative Design.

If we would like to find a common denominator for this list, it would perhaps be named as more contextually. As all of the directions have taken in account, are aimed to the some aspect of real-life. At the side of active actors and contextuality, the third major new direction recognized by Bannon is the constructive relation between users and systems. In fact it is often still the case that computer users need to make some modifications to the system in various ways.

6) Development

The research done in the ground of Human Computer Interaction in which studies of different icon and menu designs are but a small part. Programmers and designers to create computer interfaces that accompaniment humans’ abilities to perceive and understand these visual devices. For example, the absence of moving menus in the Macintosh Operating System and Windows reflect the findings by Mills & Prime on the efficiency of static versus moving menus.

It is inquiring that most of the research finished in the field of HCI starts with the design of some interface and then progresses to usability testing. There is very little initial thought given to how humans actually process information; instead studies seek to find this out by testing performance on varied interfaces. There is a critical mass of research that has already been done, such that this second method of designing around human insight should become more the norm.

The gamut reaction of the human eye is the color range that the eye is sensitive to, which is non-linear. Computers provide a linear color gamut that does not take into account human perception. The Mac OS provides a color space that contains equal amounts of red, green, and blue. Although a computer monitor can display all of these colors, the human eye has a greater range of color perception in red than in green and blue. The interface for color selection should take this non-linear response into account.

7) Evaluation 

Grudin’s viewpoint of the development is quite similar to those presented by A. Friedman in his significant book about the development history of whole computer systems (Friedman, 1989). In cooperation of them see that the older problems do not become totally solved and stay alive beside the newer. The larger ones – only their relative importance diminishes gradually. Grudin’s this paper can be criticized because of its implicit “computer-centrism”, but the idea to have interface defined at different, coexisting levels is very interesting, because it obviously can relieve some conceptual problems and confusions.

As a result it is not surprising that the idea of reducing the confusion by looking at the interface from several perspectives or levels has been smart to many researchers like (Bentley, Hughes, Randall, Rodden, Sawyer, Shapiro, et al., 1992) and in advance more an more popularity during the last years, e. g. (Booth, 1989; Clarke, 1986; Gaines & Shaw, 1986; Kammersgaard, 1988; Rasmussen, 1986; Smithson & Hirschheim, 1990; Stary, 1990; Weir, 1988).

Although the use of different perspectives may help in illuminating different approaches to the interface, it does not necessarily help in relating them to each other because of the lack of any unifying background. Even in those cases where a hierarchical, layered model has been proposed (e. g. Clarke, 1986; Bentley, et al., 1992; Stary, 1990), the result is more ad hoc. Although Grudin does not attempt to develop a background framework in his classification paper, the connection of the levels to the historical development is certainly an important step to the right direction.

If we follow the IS tradition and accept the postulate of those three levels – the technical, the conceptual and the work process one – a hypothesis can be made that the problems and debates within HCI research discussed here are due to a change or enlargement of the research object of HCI from one “level” to another. The nature of this change is obviously a movement between the “conceptual” and “work process” levels: conceptually oriented “cognitive” HCI research is criticized in the debate because it does not take “work process” aspects correctly into account.

Thus we have three broad “traditions” in HCI research: the “technical” one, having roots already in the old “knob-and-dial” ergonomics, concentrating human perceptive abilities and motor skills and corresponding features of technical devices, the “conceptual” one that has formed the information processing psychology-based conventional of HCI research.

8) Discussion

Multi-levelness: By using Activity Theory it is in principle possible to discuss on issues belonging to different levels within at least to some extent integrated framework (Figure 6). Although that is certainly a major task, it is worth trying in order to relieve the ubiquitous fragmentation of the field.

Studying interaction embedded in social context: Question of context and sense making in contexts has recently risen into the focus of research, like illustrated in earlier sections. Activity Theory and the concept of activity seem to be particularly suitable and rich to be used as the starting point in studying contextually embedded interactions. It contains many features, like the recognition of actors, mediation, historicity, constructively, dynamics etc. considered essential in the recent discussions.

Dealing with the dynamics and development: In the previous section dynamism and development in several levels was recognized to be a fundamental characteristic of activities. Dealing with this dynamism has been largely nucleated in HCI, however. Little has been learnt how the formation of new operations, sense-making and creation of new actions, or, ultimately, reconfiguring whole activities could be supported by information technology. One reason for this has clearly been the lack of frameworks and theories capable to deal with developmental and dynamical features of human practices. In this respect, Activity Theory offers a very promising venue of thought, because the ideas of change and development are fundamental to it. In this paper it is not possible to cover the whole field of possibilities, but just to emphasize one corner where benefits might be gained rather rapidly — the potential of utilizing action-operation dynamics in computer interfaces.

Despite the fundamental nature of action-operation dynamics in formation of all kinds of skilled practices, the supporting of it has largely been neglected in interface research a development. This is emphasised by the principle compute are very suitable in automating operations further. In fact, it is quite difficult to find a good example where the dynamics has been properly supported and a “smooth” formation of operations from older actions and the broadening scope of new actions would have been achieved. It is true that many programs have included different “shortcuts” to be used by more experienced users.

These do not be eligible as a support for action-operation dynamics, however, because usually they are totally different from the original command and form thus a new learning task instead of a collapse of a former action into an operation. It is also true that after a certain – relatively high – level of competence the broadening scope of actions by combining old operations can be to some extent supported by a powerful operating system such as UNIX with its command files, pipes and filters and maybe a large part of the popularity of it could be connected to this feature, but again, there is no “natural path” where it would occur almost automatically with increasing experience of use.

When trying to cope with the interface design problem in all its complexity it would be of enormous help if there were a discipline studying from the design perspective the problem of  “how artifacts are used and utilized in individual and cooperative work” in general, not restricting its scope to computer systems only. Many of the fundamental questions in HCI are not unique but common to a broader class of artifacts.

There is no reason to be ashamed or depressed, however: I believe that we should instead be proud of being in the forefront and go ahead — because there is no risk to become too proud: the field will teach us all the humbleness we will ever need.

9) Conclusion:  

Human Computer Interaction is a very wealthy both in terms of the disciplines it draws from as well as opportunities for research. Discussed here was just a small subset of the topics enclosed within HCI. The study of user interface provides a double-sided approach to understanding how humans and machines interact. By studying existing interfaces, we gain an understanding of how the human mind processes information. We gain insight into how human memory deals with the information presented, as well as its limitations. We also better understand how humans use the visual subsystem to find information.

Alternatively, from studying how human physiology and psychology, we can design improved interfaces for people to interact with computers. Work in this domain is only beginning and there is much that we don’t yet know about the way the human mind works that would allow more perfect user interfaces to be built.

The study allow humans to use these interfaces provides a resulting, higher-level approach to understanding Human Computer Interaction. Though mental models are far from concrete objects, we do understand to a how they are used to allow people to interact with the world.

10) Bibliography:

1) Bødker, S. (1990). Through the interface – A human activity approach to user interface design. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum.

2)   < http://www.dwr.bth.se/kari_kuutti  >

3) Booth, P. (1989). An Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction . Hove and London: Lawrence Erlbaum.

4)    < http://www.optelec.com/about/press-release/optelec >

5) Carroll, J. M. (Ed.). (1987). Interfacing Thought: Cognitive Aspects of Human-Computer Interaction. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

6)    < http://www.datalan.sk/index/open_file.php >

7) Carroll, J. M. (Ed.). (1991). Designing Interaction; Psychology at the Human-Computer Interface. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.

8)     < http://www.ciber.gatech.edu/workingpaper/colloquium >

9)      < http://www.betade.tudelft.nl/reports/ >

10)    < http://www.auma-messen.de/download/>

11)    <http://www.dans.knaw.nl/nl/over_dans/organisatie>

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