Network and multidimensional representations of the declarative knowledge of human-computer interface design experts

Douglas J. Gillan, Sarah D. Breedin, Nancy J. Cooke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


A two-part experiment investigated human computer interface (HCI) experts' organization of declarative knowledge about the HCI. In Part 1, two groups of experts in HCI design-human factors experts and software development experts-and a control group of non-experts sorted 50 HCI concepts concerned with display, control, interaction, data manipulation and user knowledge into categories. In the second part of the experiment, the three groups judged the similarity of two sets of HCI concepts related to display and interaction, respectively. The data were transformed into measures of psychological distance and were analyzed using Pathfinder, which generates network representations of the data, and multidimensional scaling (MDS), which fits the concepts in a multidimensional space. The Pathfinder networks from the first part of the experiment differed in organization between the two expert groups, with human factors experts' networks consisting of highly interrelated subnetworks and software experts' networks consisting of central nodes and fewer, less interconnected sub-networks. The networks also differed across groups in concepts linked with such concepts as graphics, natural language, function keys and speech recognition. The networks of both expert groups showed much greater organization than did the non-experts' network. The network and MDS representations of the concepts for the two expert groups showed somewhat greater agreement in Part 2 than in Part 1. However, the MDS representations from Part 2 suggested that software experts organized their concepts on dimensions related to technology, implementation and user characteristics, whereas the human factors experts' organized their concepts more uniformly according to user characteristics. The discussion focuses on (1) the differences in cognitive models as a function of the amount and type of HCI design experience and (2) the role of cognitive models in HCI design and in communications within a multidisciplinary design team.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)587-615
Number of pages29
JournalInternational Journal of Man-Machine Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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