Designing to Motivate Interaction between Peers in Learning Contexts

Thesis
Publication Work Type: 
PhD
Thesis Type: 
PhD
School: 
University of Nottingham, School of Computer Science
Publication Abstract: 

The increase of children’s interest in social media has helped facilitate
interaction between peers. This interaction plays a vital role in children’s
educational development. However, as children grow older, their motivation
to interact –particularly to seek and provide academic support– declines. This
thesis reports on the mixed methods research conducted to provide UK Key
Stage 3 pupils with a motivating peer support system. The design of this
system is informed by research on children’s motivation. Specifically, this
work draws on the Self Determination Theory (SDT); a recent theory of
motivation that takes into consideration an individual’s relatedness to a
community. This social inclination of SDT makes it an appropriate
underpinning for the development of a peer support system.
This thesis examines the design of AnswerPro, a help-seeking system
designed under a user-centred approach. The motivational constructs of
autonomy, competence and relatedness were translated into system interface
features. An iterative design process resulted in a web-based tool that enables
direct asking and answering of questions between users. The evaluation of this
design was conducted in two stages. Firstly, a field study found that users’
interactions on the system were influenced by their measured motivation. In
particular, users who were initially less motivated to seek and provide help
interacted more on the system compared to their motivated peers. Secondly,
two controlled studies found that AnswerPro increased pupils’ motivation to
seek peer support. Those studies also revealed the complex nature of
relatedness and identity in help-seeking systems.
This research contributes to the HCI field the identification, interpretation and
evaluation of three motivational constructs in the design of a system.
Furthermore, this work contributes a peer support system that motivates pupils
to seek support from each other. Also, a deeper understanding of relatedness
and its interpretation into identity is formed. This understanding resulted in the
identification of 4 distinct identity modes for help-seeking systems under
which users’ behaviours and motivation differ.