Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 369–384 | Cite as

Tangible User Interfaces and Contrasting Cases as a Preparation for Future Learning

  • Bertrand SchneiderEmail author
  • Paulo Blikstein


In this paper, we describe an experiment that compared the use of a Tangible User Interface (physical objects augmented with digital information) and a set of Contrasting Cases as a preparation for future learning. We carried out an experiment (N = 40) with a 2 × 2 design: the first factor compared traditional instruction (“Tell & Practice”) with a constructivist activity designed using the Preparation for Future Learning framework (PFL). The second factor contrasted state-of-the-art PFL learning activity (i.e., students studying Contrasting Cases) with an interactive tabletop featuring digitally enhanced manipulatives. In agreement with prior work, we found that dyads of students who followed the PFL activity achieved significantly higher learning gains compared to their peers who followed a traditional “Tell & Practice” instruction (large effect size). A similar effect was found in favor of the interactive tabletop compared to the Contrasting Cases (small-to-moderate effect size). We discuss implications for designing socio-constructivist activities using new computer interfaces.


Learning Collaboration Tangible User Interfaces Contrasting Cases Preparing for Future Learning 



We gratefully acknowledge grant support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for this work through the CAREER Bifocal Modeling grant (NSF # 1055130).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical IRB (institutional review board) of Harvard and Stanford University. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of Interest

Bertrand Schneider and Paulo Blikstein declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Harvard Graduate School of EducationHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Graduate School of EducationStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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