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The Effect of a Perceptual Syntax on the Learnability of Novel Concepts

Language theorists argue that the reason why spoken language is acquired so rapidly is that we have an innate predisposition for understanding linguistic structures. Theories of perception also hold that there may be deeply seated mechanisms for decomposing visual objects and analyzing them into both component parts and the structural interrelationships of those parts. We propose the theory that diagrams that activate the mechanisms for structural object perception should be similarly easy to learn. This builds on previous work in which we have developed diagramming principles based on the theory of structural object perception. We call these geon diagrams. We have previously shown that such diagrams are easy to remember and to analyze. To evaluate our hypothesis that geon diagrams should also be easy to understand we carried out an empirical study to evaluate the learnability of geon diagram semantics in comparison with the well-established UML convention. The results support our theory of learnability. Both "novices" and "experts" found the geon diagram syntax easier to apply in a diagram-to-textual description matching task than the equivalent UML syntax.

http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/IV.2004.1320162

Pourang Irani and Colin Ware. 2004. The Effect of a Perceptual Syntax on the Learnability of Novel Concepts. In Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Information Visualization (IV '04), 308-314.

Bibtext Entry

@INPROCEEDINGS { irani04a,
    AUTHOR = { Pourang Irani and Colin Ware },
    TITLE = { The Effect of a Perceptual Syntax on the Learnability of Novel Concepts },
    BOOKTITLE = { Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Information Visualization (IV '04) },
    YEAR = { 2004 },
    PAGES = { 308--314 },
    DOI = { 10.1109/IV.2004.1320162 },
}

Authors

Pourang Irani

Pourang Irani

Professor
Canada Research Chair

As well as: , Colin Ware