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CM30076 / CM30082
Individual Project

Project Ideas

Dr Hilary Johnson


General area of interest: Human Computer interaction, user interface design, evaluation.

Software tools to support creativity.
This project aims to develop software support for some creative activity like designing posters or writing poems - some task models for these activities could be available in advance. There are currently a series of tools on the market to support the general activity of creativity such as Mindjet, Spotfire, Brainekp, Ideafisher and these need to be evaluated in terms of their utility and usability - a redesign of these could be one potential avenue for research.
Pre-requisite knowledge: Must be able programmer
Indicative reading: Creativity and Cognition conference proceedings
Participatory design with children
Participatory design has been popular for a number of years within system design for extracting user requirements and 'empowering' users within a design process. Latterly this approach has been advocated and used with children with mixed results in terms of what they can contribute and how best to interact with children in this role.
This is an investigative project which will design software for children with children using different participatory design approaches. The literature is high level, typically journal and conference material.
You need to have access to a classroom of children from day 1 of the project. You also need to have an interest in HCI and in working with children.You need to try out different comparative approaches and assess their utility and the quality of the outcomes on the children's interaction, understanding and the resulting designs or software artefact.
Background reading: Work by Read at Uni of Preston, Alison Kidd, P Markopoulos (CHI, HCI and Interact procedings) etc on interfaces for children. Muller's CARD and PICTIVE participatory design techniques.
Representation of (friends or) foes in computer games
This aim of this project is to systematically change in an experiment, the representation of foes in computer games. Research has shown that features such as jagged lines or sharp objects or boundaries are considered more threatening than smooth, rounded lines. In many computer games quick reaction times are needed to strike foes, and these reaction times are affected by how the users perceives features comprising on-screen characters. The project will systematically change features of foes and measure the effects on users.
The project will involve the following activities:
  1. undertaking a literature review in perception, HCI, and graphics for decisions about how to change foe appearances.
  2. developing a computer game (or using one already developed) to provide the context for the representation of the foe.
  3. designing a study to assess user reactions to the different foe characteristics.
  4. running, analysing and writing up the experimental study.
Pre-requisite knowledge: Some interest in, or understanding of, graphics would be a help .... Significant programming effort here.
A mathematics tutor for children. ( a variation on this might be a guitar or other kind of tutor)
This project aims to develop an interactive tutoring system aimed at teaching children mathematics. In order to conduct this project you would need to:-
  1. investigate the learning, educational and tutoring literature, and the school mathematics curriculum;
  2. evaluate current tutoring approaches to teaching mathematics;
  3. design and prototype your tutoring solutions;
  4. evaluate your tutor.
Please note that you need access to appropriately aged children, and possibly their teachers in order to undertake this project.
Research variants of this main project suggestion could be:
  • Use of different examples
  • Use of different media or animations
  • Use of different tutoring styles
  • Adoption of passive or active interaction styles
Pre-requisite knowledge: None expected. Must be an able-programmer
Indicative reading: Any library book on tutoring systems, intelligent tutoring systems, conference proceedings on design of interfaces for children (eg CHI proceedings); Human Computer interaction textbook such as Dix et al "Human Computer Interaction" or Preece, Rogers and Sharp, "Interaction Design".