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Older Adults Feature-Rich Software Learning

This project serves as the centrepiece of my master's thesis in computer science at the University of Manitoba. Over a span of two years, I collaborated closely with my two supervisors, benefiting from their invaluable guidance and support. We identified gaps in the existing literature, designed and executed the study, collected and analyzed the data, and ultimately contributed to the understanding of older adults' learning experiences with feature-rich software. This project showcases my dedication to research, my ability to navigate complex studies, and my commitment to making meaningful contributions to the field of computer science and particularly user experience.

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Literature review

Through an extensive literature review of over 100 papers spanning three months, it became apparent that older adults have been neglected as users of feature-rich software. This motivated me to conduct research focused on addressing their unique needs and challenges in utilizing complex software applications.


Study design

This study aimed to understand how older adults explore feature-rich software while collaborating with a partner. We designed the study in two sessions: a 1-hour introduction to the Gather.Town mapmaker software and a 2-hour session for participants to design virtual worlds. We recruited 16 older adults and 6 younger participants, forming mixed and same age dyads.



Our primary data source was participants' interactions with each other and with the software during the second session, supplemented by pre- and post-study questionnaires and individual interviews. To analyze the data comprehensively, we employed both qualitative (thematic analysis, open coding) and quantitative (t-test) approaches. 



We identified four dynamics between older adults and their learning partners, emphasizing the significance of effective communication and independent exploration for successful task completion. Challenges arose from variations in GTM modes and error assessment. Same-age and mixed-age dyads exhibited distinct preferences and concerns, with older adults desiring knowledgeable partners while fearing imposing on them. Partner relationships exerted a greater impact on dyadic interactions and older adults' learning behavior than partner age alone. These findings suggest design considerations, such as incorporating an accessible pre-view mode to facilitate error-checking during exploration.

The findings of this study were presented as a poster at the UofM 2023 Centre on Aging Spring Symposium: 

Also, you can visit my supervisor's website for more information: Dr. Celine Latulipe

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