Use of colors/shapes in tools for education

2 Jan 2008 - 5:10pm
6 years ago
7 replies
946 reads
oliver green
2006

Hi All,

Can someone point me to research done to determine how many and what types
of colors and shapes students can successfully remember or distinguish or
use immediately when using tools for education?

Thanks,
Oliver

Comments

3 Jan 2008 - 10:07am
Paul Eisen
2007

Oliver asked,
> Can someone point me to research done to determine how many and what
types
> of colors and shapes students can successfully remember or distinguish
or
> use immediately when using tools for education?

Oliver, my answer addresses the part of your question asking about
color. Forgive me if this is too academic for what you're looking for; I
don't know what background you have in color science and how specific an
answer you are expecting.

There has been quite a bit of sound research done in creating distinct
color sets for various applications, particularly military and aviation.
The science behind this starts with a perceptual color space - one whose
scale calibrates to perceived differences in color rather than
physically measured differences. Based on the number of distinct colors
desired, there are recommended sets of maximally distinguishable colors.

In applying an approach like this, you would distinguish between the
light source - reflective colors vs. emissive light - as these are
modeled with different color spaces (CIELAB for reflective; CIELUV for
emissive light). I assume that your education application runs on a
computer monitor, which would be the latter. But it should not at all
matter, in theory, whether the application is for education vs. say,
gaming, currency trading, etc.

Unfortunately it has been too many years since my hands have touched
this color science literature, so I can't quickly point to a source that
offers suggestions for, say, a set of 5 reflective colors that are
maximally distinct. But these do exist, and I suspect with a bit of
digging on the web, you should be able to unearth what you need.

For a quick and dirty solution, have a look at
http://dba.med.sc.edu/price/irf/Adobe_tg/models/cieluv.html and pick
some colors that are roughly equally spaced around this diagram.

Paul Eisen
Principal User Experience Architect

tandemseven
http://www.tandemseven.com

3 Jan 2008 - 4:41pm
oliver green
2006

Thanks Paul - your answer was very useful. The tool that I am
evaluating basically uses 6-8 different colors to convey certain
"scopes". It seems to me that users (in this case students) might
take too long to learn the differences or associate a color with the
appropriate scope.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://gamma.ixda.org/discuss?post=24096

3 Jan 2008 - 5:59pm
Paul Eisen
2007

> The tool that I am evaluating basically uses 6-8 different colors to
> convey certain "scopes". It seems to me that users (in this case
students) > might take too long to learn the differences or associate a
color with the > appropriate scope.

Oliver, from my memory of my (almost ancient) experience in this field,
unless there are well understood meanings to the color/shape codes -
that is, they are not just arbitrary - 6-8 assigned colors would take a
while to learn, and require frequent rehearsal. So these would be
appropriate as the primary codes only for people motivated to learn the
application and spend many hours in it. It is probably much better to
rely on heading text or meaningful images to convey the scope.

I'd be curious what other practical advice people have to offer.

Paul Eisen
Principal User Experience Architect
tandemseven
http://www.tandemseven.com

12 Jan 2008 - 1:38pm
Rafa Lopez Callejon
2006

Oliver
It depends the colour. Red is remembered more easily.
You can learn a lot of colour in
1. *Leatrice* Eiseman books
2. There´s a big research done in Germany. But I
only have seen it in German or Spanish. The author
is Eva Heller

Hope it helps

On 1/3/08, Paul Eisen <peisen at tandemseven.com> wrote:
>
> > The tool that I am evaluating basically uses 6-8 different colors to
> > convey certain "scopes". It seems to me that users (in this case
> students) > might take too long to learn the differences or associate a
> color with the > appropriate scope.
>
> Oliver, from my memory of my (almost ancient) experience in this field,
> unless there are well understood meanings to the color/shape codes -
> that is, they are not just arbitrary - 6-8 assigned colors would take a
> while to learn, and require frequent rehearsal. So these would be
> appropriate as the primary codes only for people motivated to learn the
> application and spend many hours in it. It is probably much better to
> rely on heading text or meaningful images to convey the scope.
>
> I'd be curious what other practical advice people have to offer.
>
> Paul Eisen
> Principal User Experience Architect
> tandemseven
> http://www.tandemseven.com
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Rafa López Callejón
lopezcallejon at gmail.com
http://www.natitvos-digitales.net

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

12 Jan 2008 - 4:18pm
Jeff Howard
2004

Hi Oliver,

Take a look at George Miller's 1956 study "The Magic Number Seven,
Plus or Minus Two."

http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Miller/

Miller was studying the human ability to distinguish values along
unidimensional and multi-dimensional scales. Things related to color,
sound and taste for example. Basically, he found that most people have
the ability to reliably distinguish (by memory) about seven variations
on any particular scale. Some people are better or worse at this, so
the range is generally between five and nine variations. For example,
most people can distinguish around seven musical tones on a scale and
identify them when played without making mistakes.

With color it's not as clear-cut since colors often vary along
multiple dimensions (hue, value and satuation) but given a set of
colors that vary only along a single axis people in a psychology
experiment could, on average, distinguish about seven different
variations. Color distinctions are also culturally derived, so
that'll play into how many color variations students are able to
recognize.

I'm not familiar with research into shape distinctions, but the
first idea that popped into my head was to look at shape sorter toys
for inspiration:

http://images.google.com/images?q=shape+sorter+toy

They range from three (circle, square, triangle) to 18 different
shapes, depending on the target age.

// jeff

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=24096

12 Jan 2008 - 9:46pm
Angel Marquez
2008
22 Jan 2008 - 1:49pm
oliver green
2006

Thanks everyone - great pointers!!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://gamma.ixda.org/discuss?post=24096

Syndicate content Get the feed