Prior work has shown that children exhibit negative collaborative behaviors, such as blocking others’ access to objects, when collaborating on interactive tabletop computers. We implemented previous design recommendations, namely separate physical territories and activity roles, which had been recommended to decrease these negative collaborative behaviors. We developed a multi-touch “I-Spy” picture searching application with separate territory partitions and activity roles. We conducted a deep qualitative analysis of how six pairs of children, ages 6 to 10, interacted with the application. Our analysis revealed that the collaboration styles differed for each pair, both in regards to the interaction with the task and with each other. Several pairs exhibited negative physical and verbal collaborative behaviors, such as nudging each other out of the way. Based on our analysis, we suggest that it is important for a collaborative task to offer equal opportunities for interaction, but it may not be necessary to strive for complete equity of collaboration. We examine the applicability of prior design guidelines and suggest open questions for future research to inform the design of tabletop applications to support collaboration for children.

Julia Woodward, Shaghayegh Esmaeili, Ayushi Jain, John Bell, Jaime Ruiz, and Lisa Anthony. 2018. Investigating Separation of Territories and Activity Roles in Children’s Collaboration around Tabletops. In Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, Vol. 2, CSCW, Article 185 (November 2018). ACM, New York, NY. 21 pages.

 author = {Woodward, Julia and Esmaeili, Shaghayegh and Jain, Ayushi and Bell, John and Ruiz, Jaime and Anthony, Lisa},
 title = {Investigating Separation of Territories and Activity Roles in Children's Collaboration Around Tabletops},
 journal = {Proc. ACM Hum.-Comput. Interact.},
 issue_date = {November 2018},
 volume = {2},
 number = {CSCW},
 month = nov,
 year = {2018},
 issn = {2573-0142},
 pages = {185:1--185:21},
 articleno = {185},
 numpages = {21},
 url = {},
 doi = {10.1145/3274454},
 acmid = {3274454},
 publisher = {ACM},
 address = {New York, NY, USA},
 keywords = {activity role, children, collaboration, interactive tabletops, qualitative analysis, territory},