The Human-Computer Interaction Institute spans three floors of Carnegie Mellon’s Newell-Simon Hall and two buildings on nearby South Craig Street. In both locations, students and researchers can take advantage of the HCII’s heterogeneous distributed computing environment, experimental computers and systems, wide variety of labs and workspaces, kitchen, and configurable social space. Our main resources are the User Studies Laboratory, Design Facilities: Verge, the DevLab Physical Prototyping Laboratory, the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center and various faculty labs.


User Studies Laboratory

The User Studies Lab (USL) is a multiroom facility for research on human-computer interaction. The lab has been used for hundreds of investigations into the usability of new technology, the details of human interaction with technology, and the feasibility of new interaction techniques — including speech recognition, help systems, computer-aided instruction, human-robot interaction, and documentation and collaborative writing. The lab contains equipment for single-user laboratory and field recording of video data, and can also accommodate research into the performance of groups of people. Video, audio, and data-analysis software and equipment are available for collecting and analyzing data. An ISCAN eye-tracker is integrated into one of the lab rooms.

Design Facilities: Verge

The HCII's revolutionary Verge design space came online in January, 2013. This space, on South Craig Street adjacent to the MHCI space, contains a large studio classroom, exhibition space, a prototyping lab, and an instrumented home lab. The classroom revolutionizes how we teach design courses by allowing lecture or critique to occur in small sections or a large, contiguous space. The exhibition space hosts demonstrations, shows, workshops, and social gatherings. The prototyping lab is available for cutting, sanding, and assembling paper and wood, and for designing and creating 3D printed pieces. The instrumented home lab allows users to prototype and study how people and technology exist in domestic spaces.

DevLab Physical Prototyping Laboratory

The DevLab provides facilities and equipment supporting rapid prototyping of interactive devices and systems. It serves as a departmental resource for faculty, students, and staff interested in building physical prototypes, small custom electronic components, and other devices and systems for advanced interactive concepts.  The laboratory provides tools such as 3D printers and laser cutters, fabrication space, and materials to facilitate construction of small-scale prototypes.

Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center

The Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center is a National Science Foundation Center housed jointly at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. This center provides a national resource called LearnLab courses for researchers to investigate mathematics, science and language arts. As part of the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center (PSLC), the current project has access to the LearnLab, an international resource that provides a number of assets for learning scientists (PSLC, 2005).

First, it gives researchers access to authoring tools that aid in the design of online courses, experiments, and computational models of learners. These tools will be advantageous for the current project as they will facilitate the design of instructional materials (conceptual exercises) that can be easily integrated with the current online Tutor interface. In addition, they will make it possible to create computational models (profiles) of the prior knowledge held by individual students that will be combined to form a trajectory  detailing how learners of varying ability levels benefit from the intervention. This work will be useful in efforts to personalize the learning experience for individual students.

The second resource provided by LearnLab is support for running in vivo learning experiments. The PSLC has recruited a number of schools (in Pittsburgh and other areas across the nation) that use the Algebra Tutor Curriculum in their Algebra classes. These schools have partnered with the PSLC to meet the goal of further understanding students' learning with the tutoring systems and have agreed to allow collection of data logs during students’ everyday experience with the Tutor and to participate in research studies conducted as part of their classroom lessons. The partnership with LearnLab schools is a great benefit to the proposed project, as it will enable the researchers to conduct research without the major startup costs usually  involved in setting up in vivo experiments, as the schools have already agreed to participate.

Third, LearnLab provides researchers with tools for data analysis. Through the setup of their DataShop, the PSLC has made it possible for researchers to easily sift through the wealth of data collected during longitudinal data logging. In addition, it provides access to software for learning-curve analysis, as well as for semiautomated coding of verbal protocol data. These resources should be beneficial for the current project in that they will reduce the effort required to analyze the log data collected in experiments, and will facilitate interpretation of verbal descriptions of strategies used, if collection of such protocols is deemed useful in experiments.

Finally, LearnLab provides access to fine-grained longitudinal log data from entire courses in previous school years. Partnering schools have agreed to allow the PSLC to collect log data during students’ everyday use of the Tutor in their classrooms, and these data are made available to researchers. This resource will be beneficial for the current project in that it will inform the design of the experiments and provide additional opportunities to identify typical buggy strategies used by students, as it would be possible to examine and analyze the log files without even having to conduct an experiment to collect the data.

In sum, the LearnLab provides a well-organized social and technical structure for research, and access to its resources will make it possible for the current project to conduct productive, rigorous research with minimal start-up costs, effort, or difficulty with analysis.

Faculty Labs

In addition to the shared facilities listed above, faculty generally run their own research out of lab spaces. Examples of these faculty labs include the Social Computing lab, Computational Experiences lab, ArticuLab, and Game Design lab.