Don’t do this – Pitfalls in using anti-patterns in teaching human–computer interaction principles

Author(s): Paula Kotze, Karen Renaud, Judy van Biljon
Venue: Computers & Education, Volume 50 , Issue 3
Date: Received 12 August 2006; received in revised form 22 September 2006; accepted 5 October 2006

Type of Experiement: Case Study


Pages: 979-1008
Location: doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2006.10.003

This paper explores the user of patterns and anti-patterns in teaching human-computer interaction principles. The authors define a pattern as "a piece of literature that describes a design problem and a general solution for the problem in a particular context. The authors also define an anti-pattern as "a solution that looks like a good idea, but backfires badly when applied, and can cause a project to fail" or "literature written in pattern form to encode practices that don’t work or that are destructive." Essentially the a pattern states "do this" where anti-patterns state "don't do this". The authors perform a case study of 66 honors-level computing science students. The students were given negative and positive guidelines to correspond to patterns and anti-patterns. Later, the authors conducted a more controlled experiment to confirm their results.

The authors found that students do exhibit signs of confusion when taught using negative guidelines or anti-patterns. They compare the anti-pattern process with the knowledge transfer process to help illustrate problems with the anti-pattern process. The authors argue that anti-patterns can create pitfalls in knowledge transfer and warn against using them in teaching environments with inexperienced students. The authors also state that anti-patterns could be useful for designers with more developed judgment knowledge.