Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


University of Wollongong. Faculty of Education


The extent to which interactivity represents an implicit characteristic of computer-based learning environments has been increasingly scrutinised. Investigating the question as to which aspects of interactivity contribute to the engagement and focus of the learner during such encounters, a research study was devised to examine the ways in which learners both perceive and work with interactive constructs. Working with a total group of 70 participants from an undergraduate program in multimedia studies, a qualitative methodology was employed to examine, through survey and observation, those elements of computer-based interactive environments that impact on the overall effectiveness of, and subsequent engagement with, content material.

Considering the array of approaches to computer-based learning, such as instructivist and constructivist, the theoretical paradigms contributing to design and implementation and the contemporary proposals advocating metaphors of theatre and narrative, the outcomes of the research supported an extended focus for design. Whereas learners appear to have clear expectations of what an interactive learning environment will provide, the actual experience of that environment can appear confused through conflicting messages and missing information. Conceptualising the learner-computer relationship as a series of encounters, and positioning the learner as an integral character or actor within that encounter, can enhance the user-centred design approach and extend the design focus beyond that of content and interface.

Adopting such an approach will potentially assist in making computer-based educational technology work more consistently and result in even more effective and engaging encounters.

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