Week 3: Cognition

Learning Outcomes


  • What happens when a person remembers something
  • What makes something memorable
  • What happens when a person learns something, and the differnce between learning about facts and procedures
  • The importance of mental models
  • The importance of feedback
  • The role of problem solving and decision making in user interface design


  • Short-term versus working versus long-term memory
  • Episodic versus semantic versus procedural memory
  • prospective versus retrospective memory
  • recall versus recognition
  • primacy versus recency
  • the effects and types of learning
  • attention
  • dual tasking and multitasking
  • mental models
  • slips of action
  • Sources of bias


  • Analyse what people need to remember in order to interact with / use a technology
  • Suggest ways in which people can learn how to use a technology / an interface
  • Given a usage scenario, determine additional demands on a person’s attention and check to what extent they might need to dual or multi task

Preparing for the Lecture

I have put together three slide decks revisiting key concepts:

  1. Slide deck on Memory: Week3Memory
  2. Slide deck on Learning: Week3Learning
  3. Slide deck on Attention: Week3Attention

Core Resources

Textbook Chapters 5 and 6

This page, which was associated with a memory test that the BBC ran in 2009 for The One Show, explains the main parts of human memory, and how they are assessed.

Additional Resources

The GoCognitive web site hosts a range of demos which allow you to take some of those tests. Of particular interest is memory for digits and memory for lists. This should be of particular interest for Design Informatics students.

For those who have already taken HCI, here is Alan Baddeley, memory expert, explaining what working memory is: http://gocognitive.net/interviews/alan-baddeley-working-memory

If you wonder what episodic, semantic and autobiographical memory look like, have a look at the Living Memory Centre in Leith, at the Ocean Terminal.

And, for some light relief, a memorable moment in British television, and the story behind its creation. Colin Firth aka Mr Darcy swims in the lake, a juxtaposition between stifling manners and a desire for freedom, for being close to nature.