Research Output
A question of realism.
  We present the results of an exploratory study investigating the feasibility of using multimedia software to teach life skills to adults with learning difficulties. As a precursor to determining whether the clients would benefit from the software, we needed to address the issue of realism in visual displays, to discover if photorealistic images of a familiar kitchen and utensils were essential, or if the clients would be able to abstract and apply information from generic cartoon-like representations. The level of realism was varied in two sets of tasks: object recognition exercises and problem-solving scenarios. Realistic versions of each task contained photorealistic images, and the problem-solving scenarios used images and speech of a support worker known to the participants to supply feedback and prompts. Unrealistic versions used clip art images and a cartoon-style character instead of the support worker. Contrary to expectations, measurements of errors and reaction times revealed the level of realism to have a negligible effect upon user performance in both sets of tasks. What has emerged is the overwhelming effect of individual differences on the design and evaluation of learning software


Hetherington, R., Crerar, A., & Turner, P. (2004). A question of realism. In User-Centered Interaction Paradigms for Universal Access in the Information Society, 68-76.



Computer aided instruction; Multimedia computing; Multimedia software; Object recognition; Realistic images; Handicapped persons; Life skills teaching; Learning difficulties;

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