Handheld computers are prevalent in society. These small devices are difficult to use because the screens are small and the text input process is tedious. Interfaces have been studied with adults but not with children. Researchers have indicated that text input methods on handheld computers are difficult for children to use. This study addressed the problem children experience with navigating through text input interfaces on a handheld computer.
This researcher investigated two paradigms: one pen-based interface and two keyboard-based interfaces. The pen-based interface was Graffiti and requires additional time to learn, its strokes are difficult to repeat, and it misinterprets characters. One soft keyboard was patterned after the QWERTY keyboard and is familiar to adults but requires extra steps to activate and open an additional screen for data entry. The other soft keyboard was a researcher-developed alternative that utilized a child-friendly alphabetic order of keys. The alternative ABC design is based on a metaphor of alphabetic layouts found in classrooms.
The research was conducted with 91 children between 9 and 11 years of age. The children learned and tested the interfaces with three games. The researcher utilized metrics to measure the speed and accuracy of each interface. Inferential statistics were performed on the results to determine if the differences were significant. Additionally, a user satisfaction survey was given.
The results indicate that the QWERTY keyboard was faster than both the ABC keyboard and the Graffiti interface. The ABC keyboard was more accurate than both the QWERTY keyboard and the Graffiti interface. The confusion matrix for Graffiti showed the children had significant trouble duplicating the strokes required to enter a letter and many times entered something that was interpreted as a symbol and not the intended letter. The survey results indicate that over 90% of the children had fun with the experiment and would like to use the handheld computer again. The children preferred the QWERTY interface over the ABC and Graffiti interfaces.
Both the quantitative and qualitative results of the study indicate the children prefer using the QWERTY interface. However, there is some evidence that the ABC interface is a valuable design to pursue for children in the concrete developmental stage.
|Commitee:||Dringus, Laurie, Ellis, Timothy|
|School:||Nova Southeastern University|
|Department:||Computer Information Systems|
|School Location:||United States -- Florida|
|Source:||DAI-B 68/05, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Elementary education, Computer science|
|Keywords:||Handheld computers, Text input|
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