Impact of different interaction protocols on group communication, satisfaction and learning outcomes of primary school children when using multitouch tabletops

David Roldán-Álvarez, Adrián Bacelo, Estefanía Martín, Pablo A. Haya

Computer & Education, Volume 152, July 2020, 103875. DOI: JCR 2018: 5.296 – 11/106 COMPUTER SCIENCE, INTERDISCIPLINARY APPLICATIONS – Q1, 4/253 EDUCATION & EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH – Q1


  • The relationship between interaction protocol and verbalisation is investigated.
  • Student learning and motivation have also been measured through tests.
  • The turn-taking protocol enhanced verbal communication.
  • Students’ motivation regarding the multi-contact table was high.
  • Students like to work in groups, but they don’t like what such collaboration entails.


Using information and communication technology (ICT) in childhood education is becoming more relevant as research shows that it can be used to foster children’s academic and non-academic skills. ICT can help build environments where children can communicate and collaborate, but creating effective learning environments is not trivial. It is thus necessary to study which configuration is the most appropriate for encouraging collaboration. In this work, we present how two different ways of interacting with a multitouch tabletop, taking turns without having to agree on the answer and working simultaneously but having to agree on the answer, affect group communication and children’s satisfaction. We have carried out four different learning experiments involving 180 children between 6 and 11 years of age who had to solve math problems in groups of three and four at a multitouch tabletop. Our results suggest that turn-based interaction makes students communicate more with each other when solving activities in groups. In addition, children’s satisfaction is high when they perform activities at a multitouch tabletop, but learning outcomes seems to not be impacted by the way of interacting with the device. Thus, while multitouch tabletops can be used to create collaborative learning environments, it is the way in which students interact with the device that may impact group communication.

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