Activity Theory: Implications for Human Computer Interaction [chapter]

Victor Kaptelinin
1994 Human-Machine Communication for Educational Systems Design  
Recently interest has grown in applying activity theory, the leading theoretical approach in Russian psychology, to issues of human-computer interaction. This chapter analyzes why experts in the field are looking for an alternative to the currently dominant cognitive approach. The basic principles of activity theory are presented and their implications for human-computer interaction are discussed. The chapter concludes with an outline of the potential impact of activity theory on studies and
more » ... ign of computer use in real-life settings. THE NEED FOR A THEORY OF HUMAN-COMPUTER INTERACTION It is generally accepted that the lack of an adequate theory of human-computer interaction (HCI) is one of the most important reasons that progress in the field of HCI is relatively modest, compared with the rate of technological development. People coming to the field of HCI from different disciplines-psychology, computer science, graphics design, and others-have serious problems in coordinating and combining their efforts. For example, typical HCI curricula for undergraduate and graduate students present a mixture of knowledge from various disciplines rather than an integrated perspective. Traditional conceptual approaches cannot provide an appropriate basis for addressing many important aspects of HCI, including computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) and cross-cultural aspects of computer use. Consequently the impact of HCI studies on current design practice is limited, with user interface design being based mainly on intuition and expensive trial and error.
doi:10.1007/978-3-642-85104-9_2 fatcat:fepap657xrd2zdajwzszqsuwgq