High Level Models of Human Behaviour

Note: this is an old module that has not been updated in years.

There are very few theories in HCI, and most tend to deal with low level phenomena such as selection accuracy and speed (Fitts Law), or ways of modeling human goals into low-level actions and predicting performance outcomes (GOMS). As an alternative, I provide students with two high-level cognitive models of human behaviour that help them understand how people interact with machines. These are Shneiderman's syntactic / semantic model, and Norman's stages of interaction.


Topics covered

  • High-level models of user behavior
  • Shneiderman's syntactic/semantic model
    • Syntactic knowledge
    • Semantic knowledge
    • What it reveals to the designer
  • Norman's stages of an interaction
    • Intention, selection, execution and evaluation
    • Gulfs of execution and evaluation
    • What it reveals to the designer

Major sources used to prepare lecture material

  1. Norman, D.
    The Design of Everyday Things, Basic Books
    • contains a full description of Norman's stages.
  2. Shneiderman, B.
    Designing the User Interface, various editions, Addison Wesley
    • contains a full description of Shneiderman's syntactic/semantic model.