Portfolio: Restricting Copy-Paste Selection Size

While my early research found that copy-paste note-taking is more efficient than typing, producing equivalent learning in less time, students performed better when their selections were shorter. While I wanted to see whether encouraging shorter selections would increase learning, the first interface I designed was a failure, as students disliked it, used it less, and even learned less. I conducted a user-centered design process to create a more user-friendly restrictive interface, and submitted it to rigorous experimental evaluation.


I developed a variety of potential interface solutiosn (see demo video) and submitted them to a rapid iterative design process involving user-tests that combined think-aloud observations, questionnaires, and semi-structured interviews. The design process is based on categorization of the design space into "interface variables" across which the potential interfaces differ. For example, while one interface may restrict a user from making a long selection, another would only recommend that users not make such a large selection. I evaluated one recommendation interface and one restricted interface in a rigorous experimental evaluation, evaluating learning, behavior, and student attitudes.

Key Outcomes

I developed a restricted interface (see demo video) that students preferred to an unrestricted interface. Students using this interface could select an entire sentence by simply clicking on it, but could not make selections larger than a sentence. This tool was also effective in reducing students' selection size relative to the unrestricted interface, as was the final recommend interface (see demo video). However, students did not prefer the recommend interface to the unrestricted interface. There were no learning differences, indicating encouraging shorter selections will not promote learning.

Further Information:
For a little more information, here is a 2-page pdf.
For a full description, read my JCDL publication.

Interface Videos