Maria Alexandra Rentroia Bonito,

Departamento de Engenharia Informática


The doctoral work outlined in this document is part of an ongoing research program conducted at Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) by GELO (Group for E-Learning in Organizations). Its main objective is to analyse the relationship between motivation-tolearn, usability of learning systems, and learning outcomes by using an integrated usability evaluation framework. The main research question is: Do e-learning programs, designed taking into account usability and motivation-to-elearn aspects, positively enhance learning outcomes? If so, what design variables are more relevant to motivate what groups to engage in e-learning? We propose a conceptual framework and its embodiment in an e-learning system. To assess its effectiveness, we developed an usability evaluation method to drive empirical tests. This evaluation method combines quantitative and qualitative measures and fosters design-oriented user feedback along the learning process. The characteristics of the proposed holistic evaluation method address some identified weaknesses in usability evaluation studies, such as the lack of: (a) an integrated conceptual approach to evaluate e-learning systems’ usability in the context of use, and (b) a design tool to bridge the designer-user communication gap in a cost-effective manner.

Preliminary results, garnered over the course of the last two years, with a small subject population, suggested that the proposed evaluation method allows an structured and design-oriented assessment on usability of e-learning systems taking into account learners’ motivation to e-learn. The proposed research work will test and validate these results by using a larger population, to yield a workable approach to predict e-learning outcomes. The main expected contribution of this research work is an empirically tested usability evaluation method that allows development teams to anticipate the impact of learners’ motivation and usability of e-learning systems on outcomes. This will contribute to support development teams’ decision-making process when designing e-learning experiences, focusing their effort on online learners’ valued items in specific learning situations.


Date: 2006-May-25     Time: 14:30:00     Room: Sala de Reuniões do DEI

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