CN13 - Cognitive Factors in Design: Basic Human Memory and Problem Solving

Thomas T. Hewett, Drexel University

You will learn some theoretical and practical aspects of how people remember information and how they solve problems. You will gain insights about how to take advantage of some of these capabilities in designing for your most important interaction component, the human mind.

This introductory level course has been described as a “CHI Classic” and was highly rated at earlier CHI conferences over a 10 year period from 1995 to 2004.


  • understand a variety of phenomena through “minds-on” exposure
  • develop a basis for making educated design choices when guidelines fail
  • relate some cognitive phenomena to human-computer interaction
  • gain the resources needed for self-directed study in cognitive psychology
  • obtain a useful set of materials for teaching and demonstration to others

Interaction designers and developers who have found that users have minds of their own. Anyone involved with interactive system design who has not done course work in cognitive psychology. Not intended for the human factors specialist, the individual with extensive coursework in psychology, or the person seeking a state-of-the-art literature review of the latest research. The approach to the material is reflective and the course is not intended for the person seeking "instant" or pre-packaged solutions for the problems of this week's project.

Interactive presentation and “minds-on” exercises.

Instructor Background:
Tom Hewett is Professor of Psychology and Computer Science at Drexel University where he teaches courses on Cognitive Psychology, Psychology of Human Computer Interaction, and Problem Solving and Creativity. Tom has offered variants of this course to hundreds of interaction designers at both conferences and in-house training sessions.