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Collaboration on large interactive displays: a
Magdalena Mateescu, Christoph Pimmer, Carmen Zahn, Daniel
Klinkhammer & Harald Reiterer
To cite this article: Magdalena Mateescu, Christoph Pimmer, Carmen Zahn, Daniel Klinkhammer
& Harald Reiterer (2019): Collaboration on large interactive displays: a systematic review,
Human–Computer Interaction, DOI: 10.1080/07370024.2019.1697697
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Collaboration on large interactive displays: a
and Harald Reiterer
Institute for Research and Development of Collaborative Processes, School of Applied Psychology,
University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, Olten, Switzerland
Institute for Information Systems, University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern
Switzerland, Basel, Switzerland
Human-Computer Interaction Group, University of Konstanz, Konstanz, Germany
Large Interactive Displays (LIDs), such as tabletops or interactive walls,
are promising innovations, which are increasingly used to support co-
located collaboration. Yet the current evidence base on the impact of
LID use on collaborative processes and outcomes, and associated
Magdalena Mateescu (email@example.com, https://www.fhnw.ch/de/personen/magda-
lena-mateescu) is a psychologist investigating the impact of new media on collaborative processes; she
is a researcher in the Institute for Research and Development of Collaborative Processes (ifk), School
of Applied Psychology, University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Northwestern Switzerland FHNW.
Christoph Pimmer (firstname.lastname@example.org, https://www.fhnw.ch/de/personen/christoph-
pimmer) main interest is in the fields of digital learning, e-collaboration and knowledge management;
he works as a senior lecturer and researcher at the School of Business, University of Applied Sciences
and Arts Northwestern Switzerland FHNW. Carmen Zahn (email@example.com, https://www.
fhnw.ch/de/personen/carmen-zahn) is psychologist and professor for Digital Media at Work and in
Education with main interest in research into computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL); she
holds a position as a full professor at the Institute for Research and Development of Collaborative
Processes at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Northwestern Switzerland (School of
Applied Psychology. Daniel Klinkhammer (firstname.lastname@example.org, https://hci.uni-
konstanz.de/personen/wissenschaftliche-mitarbeiterinnen/daniel-klinkhammer) is a computer scientist
with an interest in tabletop interaction, augmented and virtual reality, as well as new input and output
devices; he is a research assistant at the Human-Computer Interaction Group at the University of
Konstanz. Harald Reiterer (email@example.com, https://hci.uni-konstanz.de/personen/
reiterer/) is a computer scientist with an interest in different fields of Human-Computer Interaction,
like Interaction Design, Usability Engineering, and Information Visualization. He is a full professor for
Human-Computer Interaction at the Department of Computer and Information Science at the
University of Konstanz.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-
NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/),
which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the
original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
HUMAN–COMPUTER INTERACTION, 2019, Volume 00, pp. 1–35
Copyright © 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
ISSN: 0737-0024 print / 1532-7051 online
influencing factors, is fragmented, particularly in comparison with other
media. To address this gap, a systematic review was carried out in the
databases Web of Science, Psych.Info, ACM, Elsevier, JSTOR and
Springer and in the ACM CHI conference database. A corpus of 38
articles with experimental study designs met the eligibility criteria and
was analyzed in-depth. With regard to collaboration processes, the find-
ings suggest a relatively clear advantage of the use of LIDs over classic
forms of collaboration, in particular over single-user environments (e.g.
laptops). With attention to collaborative outcomes, positive effects of
LIDs were identified for knowledge gains and social encounters, and
mixed effects for task-related outcomes. The analysis further shows
relevant influencing factors of LID, such as the separation of personal
and joint work spaces and the deployment of horizontal instead of
vertical displays. Conceptual and practice implications are discussed.
KEYWORDS Large interactive displays, large interactive surfaces, interactive
walls, interactive tabletops, collaboration theory, systematic review
1. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
1.1. Conceptual Foundations
1.2. Findings and Limitations of Previous Reviews
2. APPROACH AND METHODS
2.1. Research Questions and Goal
2.2. Search Strategies
2.4. Data Coding and Analysis
3.1. Collaborative Processes
3.2. Collaborative Outcomes
3.3. Design and Influencing Factors of Large Interactive Displays
Task and Group Characteristics
4.1. LID Effects on Collaborative Processes and Outcomes
4.2. Understanding the design space of LIDs
4.3. Limitations and Directions of Future Research
2M Mateescu et al.
1. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
Large Interactive Displays (LIDs), such as tabletops or interactive walls, have taken
on a particular role in the ever-growing field of computer-supported collaboration. They
hold the promise of enabling effective co-located collaboration. One of LIDs’key features
is conceived to be the integration of affordances offered by collaboration in physical
space –for example the joint development of a sketch on paper –with the advantages of
digital collaboration (Müller-Tomfelde, Müller-Tomfelde & Fjeld, 2010). It is this con-
vergence that can enable more fluent collaborative interaction –for example smooth(er)
transitions between individual and group work and between different types of activities
(Rogers & Lindley, 2004). Positive expectations and favorable perceptions have led to the
implementation of LIDs in a wide range of practice settings. For example, LIDs are used in
financial institutions for customer meetings, in formal educational settings for class
orchestration, and in informal learning settings such as museums for information pre-
sentation and guidance (Beheshti, Kim, Ecanow, & Horn, 2017; Nussbaumer, Matter, &
Despite the increased use and interest, the evidence base and the research community
are fragmented across different fields, groups and strands, such as human-computer
interaction, computer-supported learning, computer-supported collaborative work and
educational technology, just to name a few. There is not even a commonly acknowledged
notion for the technology itself, with relevant literature being published using terms such
interactive display, tabletop, interactive wall, wall display, tabletop interfaces and multi-
touch. In line with many of the scholarly publications on this topic (Ardito, Buono,
Costabile, & Desolda, 2015; Buisine, Besacier, Aoussat, & Vernier, 2012;Mueller-
Tomfelde, 2012; Müller-Tomfelde & Fjeld, 2010; Rogers & Lindley, 2004), the term
“Large Interactive Display”is used in this review. The viable alternative “Large Interactive
Surfaces”was put aside –inter alia because it was, unlike “interactive”and “display”not
part of most common keyword terms for CHI papers on the subject “collaboration, group
orteamorworkoreducationorlearningorCSCLorCSCW”at the time of writing the
Another motivation for this systematic literature review was that research that
systematically analyzes and summarizes the impact of LIDs on collaborative work is
rare. Prior reviews have conceptualized LID affordances and benefits from tech-
nological and historical perspectives. (See also section 1.2). What is lacking is,
however, a systematic and comparative analysis of the effects of LIDs on colla-
borative processes, associated outcomes, and influencing factors which impact LID-
based collaboration. In our view, LID affordances can only be fully understood if
compared to other, alternative tools and/or by comparing various designs.
The main motivation of developing this review was thus to address these three
aspects, with the underlying rationale to “defragment”and systematize the current
evidence base. To this end, we have systematically reviewed high-quality, experi-
mental studies on LIDs published in the last twenty years, drawing on the Input-
Process-Output framework that has proved valuable in the conceptualization of
Human–Computer Interaction 3
collaborative work (McGrath, Arrow, Gruenfeld, Hollingshead, & O’Connor, 1993;
Pinsonneault & Kraemer, 1989). To contextualize our research, we will now briefly
outline the conceptual foundations of LIDs and summarize the findings from prior
1.1. Conceptual foundations
Research into the development of LIDs adheres to long-held views on the suppor-
tive role that technology and external representations play in the domain of group work
(Salas, Cooke, & Rosen, 2008). The rationale is that well-designed workspaces help
improve collaboration processes and outcomes of group work. Concretely, LIDs help
groups view, interact with and generate artifacts, such as photos, spreadsheets, plans, text,
graphic representations and videos, in a concerted manner. LIDs can be conceptualized as
socio-cognitive tools that shape the collaborative processes and outcomes of these
processes. LID elements that impact social interaction are the round-table constellation,
face-to-face situations (Buisine et al., 2012) and the availability of personal spaces (Scott,
Grant, & Mandryk, 2003). Social interaction is further shaped by the availability and
placement of entry points and the skillful handling of physical and digital artifacts that can
spark the curiosity and interest of collaborators to co-manipulate these objects (Rogers,
Lim, Hazlewood, & Marshall, 2009). For example, the particular properties of LIDs (e.g.
the number of entry points) condition collaborative processes in the form of the social
interaction that unfolds between group members, which manifest for example in turn-
taking patterns (Schneider et al., 2012). The cognitive aspects are contingent on the
properties of LIDs that allow users to offload information processing and problem-
solving by externalizing information (Fiore & Wiltshire, 2016). For example, opportunities
for collaboratively engaging with external representations can activate concepts in peo-
ple’s long-term memory and thus help them offload and stimulate cognition (Afonso
1.2. Findings and limitations of previous reviews
A number of reviews reflect the substantial scientific interest in LIDs during the last
two decades. Previous reviews have examined LIDs mostly from a technological or
historical perspective, i.e. focusing on the evolution of the state-of-the-art in technological
developments. Scott et al. (2003) reviewed literature on collocated group work up until 2003
and proposed guidelines for applications supporting collaborative work using LIDs. For
example, they suggest that when designing LIDs smooth transitions between individual and
group work and simultaneous user actions should be supported. Similarly, Müller-Tomfelde
and Fjeld (2010) reviewed fifteen years of scientific research into interactive tabletops,
focusing on emerging technologies (i.e. touch input, large displays, software applications
and protocol standards). They pointed to key features such as multi-touch and tangibility as
well as direct-display technologies and described their impact on research and development.
Reviewing 25 years of interactive tabletop research, Bellucci, Malizia, and Aedo (2014)
4M Mateescu et al.
elucidate the design space of LIDs. The authors focused on the analysis of (a) hardware
technologies and (b) interaction modalities (multi-touch, tangibles, touchless). Higgins,
Mercier, Burd, and Hatch (2011) examined the potentials of LIDs in classrooms as means
to support learning and proposed a typology that distinguishes characteristics of surface
(geometry and display type), touch (touch sensing, tangibles, styli) and connectivity (range of
input and output capabilities). A recent review of 206 articles (Ardito et al., 2015) focused on
the use of large displays in public or semi-public spaces and the ways in which they shape
human-computer interaction. The authors concentrated on the technological characteriza-
tion of LIDs and in particular on input factors, finally emerging with a classification scheme
that differentiates visualization technology, display setup, interaction modality, application
purpose and location.
In essence, these prior works offer important insights into the technological design
of LIDs, conceptualizing the central affordances of LIDs for supporting collaboration
and define interesting areas for future research. On this basis, the need increases for
analyzing LIDs, too, from a psychological perspective on their effectiveness in sustaining
collaborative work in comparison with other media and tools. This is the gap that the
present review seeks to address.
2. APPROACH AND METHODS
2.1. Research questions and goal
The present review addresses the following research questions:
RQ1: What are the effects of LIDs on collaborative processes, particularly in
comparison with classic media such as paper-based collaboration and small
RQ2: What are the effects of LIDs on collaborative outcomes, particularly in
comparison with classic media, such as paper-based collaboration and small
RQ3: What are the design principles and other influencing factors that impact
The potential finding that LIDs influence collaboration processes and
trigger positive outcomes attendant to these processes is not only of scientific
interest, but has practical implications, too, when compared with other (less-
future-oriented and more familiar) media settings for groups. Accordingly, we
added paper-based and single-user environments such as Personal Computers
(PCs), laptops and tablets as the level of comparison to RQ1 and RQ2. Single-
user environments are of interest insofar as they are commonly used in support
of collaborative processes in many of today’s work environments and research
designs. In addition to the comparison of LIDs and other media, it is also
relevant to account for the varying designs and features of LID environments,
Human–Computer Interaction 5
for example the use of vertical versus horizontal displays. To do so, we added
RQ3 to better understand design features and associated dynamics through
which LID-based collaboration benefits materialize.
2.2. Search strategies
In conducting this systematic review, we followed general steps for literature reviews
(Booth, Sutton, & Papaioannou, 2016; Cook & West, 2012; Kitchenham et al., 2009): We
started by identifying the need for a systematic review and deducing the research questions.
This step was followed by the search for relevant studies and an assessment of the eligibility
of studies based on previously established inclusion und exclusion criteria (see the descrip-
tion of the criteria below and for the graphical illustration of the process Figure 1). Finally, we
analyzed the eligible studies and synthesized them (see Supplementary Data: Appendix A).
FIGURE 1. Process diagram of identification, screening and eligibility of the studies.
6M Mateescu et al.
We reviewed empirical studies from the most important fields in which such studies on
LID are typically published, e.g. HCI, CSCW, CSCL and psychology. To identify relevant
articles from leading journals and conferences, the first of our searches involved publicly
available and peer-reviewed articles in the Web of Science, Psych.Info, ACM, Elsevier,
JSTOR and Springer databases for journal articles and the ACM Digital Library for papers
from the CHI conference. The search was conducted in August 2017, with an update in
March 2019, and included articles in the English language from the past twenty-two years
(1997–2019).Thesearchwasspecifiedbycombiningthetermsinteractive display, tabletop, interactive
wall, wall display, tabletop interfaces and multi-touch with the terms: collaboration, group or team or work or
education or learning or CSCL or CSCW. Using these keywords, we searched the field topic,which
yielded a total number of 916 articles after removing the duplicates. Moreover, papers from the
most important ACM HCI conferences (CHI and ITS/ISS) were searched using the same
keywords. This search yielded 575 articles.
The 1491 identified articles were assessed to determine if they met the following screen-
ing criteria, which were carefully chosen to ensure the quality of this review following widely
established criteria: (1) Publication date: from 1997 through to 2019; (2) Publication type:Peer-
reviewed journals, CHI or ITS/ISS conference; (3) Language: English; (4) Length:atleastten
pages (this criterion meant eliminating work in progress that reports preliminary results); (5)
Subject: the research presented in the paper directly addressed collaboration at a LID in the work
or educational context.
Based on these screening criteria of the total 1491 identified articles, 668 were deemed to
be eligible and were included in the further analysis. During this analysis the full text of the
publications were retrieved and reviewed against the following eligibility criteria:(1)Sound
experimental methodology: sound methodological quantitative study with a pretest and/or
control group, see Campbell and Stanley (1966). Studies of lower methodological quality
were not considered: studies needed to both describe their data-gathering procedures, the
study population (e.g. number of participants, gender, etc.), intervention and (experimental)
procedure, and all necessary information regarding the statistical tests used (e.g. mean and
standard deviation for parametric tests, etc.). (2) Educational or work settings: the study took place in
a work or educational setting; excluded here were studies of leisure activities or public displays as
well as studies comparing different cultures; (3) Physical setting: studies needed to include at least
one large interactive display; (4) Collaborative task: the participants were involved in collaborative
work with the explicit goal of completing a clearly defined task (competitive tasks were
excluded); (5) Measures of collaborative work: papers reporting measures of collaborative processes
and/or task-related outcomes were included, whereas studies reporting only measures of system
usability and user experience were excluded; (6) Participants: studies of groups with special needs
(like small infants and autist or geriatric participants) were excluded. After this rather conserva-
tive procedure there remained a total of 41 studies reported in 38 articles.
The total of 38 articles were finally synthesized with respect to the variables described
below (see Figure 2). Articles and papers describing more than one study with different
Human–Computer Interaction 7
independent variables were separately scored and referred to as Study 1 and 2. For instance
three papers reported two relevant studies each (Buisine et al., 2012; Rogers & Lindley,
2004; Tang, Tory, Po, Neumann, & Carpendale, 2006). The final sample thus consisted of
2.4. Data coding and analysis
The in-depth analyses of the 41 studies involved the reading, re-reading,
extracting and summarizing of information on experimental design and empirical
results based on the following categories and subcategories: input (influencing
factors), collaborative processes and task-related, social or knowledge outcomes
(see Figure 2). These categories were extracted from the Input-Process-Output
(IPO) model, which proved to be a robust framework for conceptualizing research
in HCI, CSCW/CSCL and small group research (Marks, Mathieu, & Zaccaro, 2001;
Mathieu, Maynard, Rapp, & Gilson, 2008; McGrath et al., 1993; Pinsonneault &
In establishing the coding scheme, we followed theoretical distinctions from
previous research (Beal, Cohen, Burke, & McLendon, 2003; DeChurch & Mesmer-
Magnus, 2010; Fransen, Kirschner, & Erkens, 2011; Marks et al., 2001; Mathieu
et al., 2008; McGrath et al., 1993; Pinsonneault & Kraemer, 1989; Salas et al., 2008).
The input or contextual information category covers characteristics of the LID, of
the task being solved and of the group using the LID as well as those of the LID’s
context of use. These are characteristics that were varied as independent variables in
some of the reviewed studies. We considered subcategories of the characteristics
pertaining to technology, task, group and context thereby drawing on the widely
acknowledged view that group performance depends on the fit between technology
(here: direct, multi-touch, multi-user interaction) and the group including its tasks as
well as the context in which action takes place (McGrath et al., 1993, p. 307).
Collaborative processes and outcome variables concerned the respective
effects of the input at both group and individual level. Collaborative processes
are defined as “members’interdependent acts that convert inputs to outcomes through
cognitive, verbal, and behavioral activities directed toward organizing taskwork to achieve
FIGURE 2. Coding scheme: Categories and subcategories used for analyzing the empirical
Input (RQ3) Process (RQ1) Outcomes (RQ2)
Task and group
Verbal and gestural
Level of reasoning
Knowledge outcomes: e.g. the extent of
acquired knowledge as measured in a test;
Task-related outcomes: e.g. effectiveness,
efficiency, satisfaction with task outcome
Social outcomes: e.g. satisfaction with
group’s process, established
8M Mateescu et al.
collective goals”(Marks et al., 2001, p. 357). Included in the subcategories of
collaborative processes were thus: participation, workspace awareness, verbal
and gestural communication, coordinating strategies, and level of reasoning
(see Figure 2). In addition to traditional indicators of collaborative processes,
we also included indicators that have generally been neglected by small-group
research but have received increasing attention in HCI studies, such as artifact
manipulation and interaction.
For outcomes,definedas“results and by-products of team activity”[our
emphases] (Mathieu et al., 2008), we considered three subcategories: task-
related outcomes, social outcomes and knowledge outcomes (see Pinsonneault
and Kraemer (1989) for a detailed description of task-related outcomes and
social outcomes). The subcategories task-related outcomes cover classic aspects of
usability studies with attention to goal achievement. They included measures
of (1) effectiveness, namely “an evaluation of the results of performance with
no consideration of the costs of achieving the results”(Beal et al., 2003,
p. 995) e.g. quantity and quality of ideas produced in a brainstorming tasks,
(2) efficiency, i.e. the “the effectiveness of a group with some consideration of
the cost of achieving that level of effectiveness, that is, a ratio or factoring in
of inputs relative to outputs”(Beal et al., 2003,p.995)e.g.timeontask,
number of errors, and (3) satisfaction with task results. The subcategory social
outcomes refers to the subjective evaluation of the quality of the collaborative
process and its effect on future individual behavior, e.g. satisfaction with
group’s process, willingness to work together in the future, and trustworthi-
ness. Based on the analyzed studies, we also considered a third subcategory,
knowledge achievements, measured at the individual level as knowledge that
participants acquired during the experiment (e. g. number of learned facts).
For all subcategories we classified the effects reported in the studies as
positive, negative, null, partial or mixed. Positive means that for all measured
indicators of a subcategory there are positive relations reported; negative means
that for all measured indicators there are negative relations reported; null means that
no significant differences were found; partial means that a positive effect was
reported only for some aspects of the same indicator, e.g. significant effect for
artifact interaction but only for the second half of the time spent on a task (see
Wozniak et al., 2016). Mixed means that distinct effects for the different indicators
of the same subcategory were found, e.g. amount of communication and type of
utterances (see for example Rogers et al., 2009). The reported effects were extracted
and summarized (see Appendix A) and the results synthesized (see Section 3).
Regarding the quality of the extraction of the type of effect, half of the selected
studies were independently reviewed by the second coauthor and no differences in
the interpretation occurred.
Human–Computer Interaction 9
Below we summarize the effects of LIDs on collaborative processes (RQ1),
outcomes (RQ2), and influencing factors (RQ3).
3.1. Collaborative processes
Out of the 41 studies, twenty studies compared LIDs with traditional media
(single-user environments and paper). Hence, the comparison of LID-based collabora-
tion processes with collaboration processes attendant to the use of other media was
a popular approach in the corpus of studies we examined. Collaboration processes were
measured in the reviewed studies using different subcategories including (a) workspace
awareness, (b) verbal and gestural communication, (c) participation, (d) coordination
flow, (e) artifact interaction, and (f) reasoning levels, which are presented below. Our
analysis revealed mostly positive effects of LID use on collaborative processes (RQ1) in
comparison with traditional media such as paper and/or single-user environments (see
FIGURE 3. Synthesis of the results for measuring the collaborative processes.
Subcategory Description/Examples of Measures Summarized Findings
Understanding another person’s interactions
with the shared workspace; measured through
self-reports and indicators based on
observations, such as parallel and serial work,
the number of interferences and verbal
All studies found positive effects of
LID over both paper and single- user
Measures for verbal and gestural
communication, e.g. amount of spoken words,
type of utterances, and amount of gestures.
No general advantages of LID in
supporting verbal and gestural
communication, however studies that
compared LID with PCs identified
positive effects for LID use.
Participation Level of involvement of all participants in
solving the task, e.g. indexes of equity such as
the GINI index.
Inconclusive results because the
number of studies reporting positive
and negative effects is almost evenly
Collective coordination strategies describe the
ways in which groups orchestrate, link and
integrate individuals’ contributions, e.g.
measures of group strategies and collaborative
All studies on group strategies and
coordinative mechanisms found
positive effects for LID compared
with traditional media.
Measures of participants’ manipulative
behavior regarding physical and digital
artifacts, e.g. adding, modifying deleting
The provision of shared interactive
representations in LID conditions led
to more manipulative acts of artifacts
than in paper and single-user
Measures that reflect the level of reasoning
observed in or expressed by group members,
e.g. in the form of sense-making activities,
reasoning strategies, and mental models.
LID supported groups in establishing
a joint conceptual problem space with
positive effects reported in
comparison to PC conditions.
Comparisons to paper environments
were much less clear.
10 M Mateescu et al.
3.1.1. Workspace awareness
The “up-to-the-moment understanding of another person’s interaction with
the shared workspace”(Gutwin & Greenberg, 2004) is considered a crucial factor in
team cognition, even though maintaining awareness is often not seen as a goal in
itself but is rather viewed as taking a backseat to task completion (Endsley, 2015;
Gutwin & Greenberg, 2004). All four studies that investigated workspace awareness
found positive effects for the LID environment as compared with both paper and
single-user environments (Clayphan, Martinez-Maldonado, Tomitsch, Atkinson, &
Kay, 2016; Hwang & Su, 2012; Jetter, Gerken, Zoellner, Reiterer, & Milic-Frayling,
2011) or whiteboard (Clayphan, Collins, Ackad, Kummerfeld, & Kay, 2011). For
example, Jetter et al. (2011) investigated a decision-and-consensus task carried out
on a tabletop and web interface on a PC and they found that the shared workspace
on the tabletop resulted in increased awareness. Participants often worked in
parallel, yet they offered unsolicited help and suggestions to one another in situ,
which sustained the overall workflow.
3.1.2. Verbal and gestural communication
The influence of LIDs on verbal and gestural communication was examined in six
studies (Hwang & Su, 2012;Hwang,Shadiev,Tseng,&Huang,2015; Rogers et al., 2009;
Buisine et al., 2012, Study 1 and 2; Tuddenham, Davies, & Robinson, 2009). The majority
(n = 5) focused on verbal communication measuring for example the number of
assertions, questions and answers. Contrary to general expectations, the results do not
confirm the advantage of LIDs use over traditional media in supporting verbal and
gestural communication. Three of the six studies (Hwang et al., 2015;Hwang&Su,2012)
reported positive effects for verbal communication especially in consideration of the type
of communicative acts (seeking and giving help, making suggestions), which are seen as an
indicator of the quality of collaborative work. For example, Hwang and Su (2012)
compared the application for an English sentence-making task on a LID versus a PC
and they found a higher number of verbal requests in the LID condition. Of the other
three studies, however, one study reported null effects (Buisine et al., 2012, Study, p. 1),
one mixed, null and negative effects (Rogers et al., 2009), and the last study found negative
effects only (Buisine et al., 2012, Study, p. 2). The negative effects reported by Rogers et al.
(2009) concerned the quantity but not the quality of verbal communication: Participants in
the laptop condition (compared to the LID condition) tended to produce dialogue at
a faster rate, but no difference was observed with respect to the number of suggestions,
confirmations or queries. This was explained by the need of the mouse-holders in the PC
condition to justify their moves, e.g. to disclose to other participants what they were doing
or planning to do. By contrast, these explanations were not required in the other
conditions (tabletop and tabletop plus RFID-enabled physical objects) because of the
enhanced transparency and ability of each group member to interact with the interface on
their own. These results raise questions and suggest that a higher extent of collaborative
processes might not in itself mean improved collaborative work.
Human–Computer Interaction 11
Two studies compared the use of LIDs vs. paper conditions regarding the use
of gestural communication (Buisine et al., 2012, Study 1 and 2). In the first study the
authors report positive effects, with participants in the LID condition using a more
balanced gestural communication than those in the control conditions, whereas in
the second study they found negative effects. An explanation for this seemingly
contradictory result can be found in the setting used as control condition. In the
first experiment the horizontal LID (tabletop) was compared to a vertical flip chart
while in the second experiment a round-table setting was used as the control
condition. Two studies (Hwang et al., 2015; Hwang & Su, 2012) reported positive
effects of LIDs compared with PCs. Null and negative results were found when
LID vs. paper-environment were compared, especially when the physical setting
(round-table arrangement) resembled the LID setting (tabletop) (Rogers et al., 2009;
Buisine et al., 2012, Study, p. 2).
A total of seven studies addressed the potential affordance of LIDs to boost equal
participation (e.g. participation equity) in groups (Clayphan et al., 2016; Piper & Hollan,
2009; Schneider et al., 2012; Shaer et al., 2011; Buisine et al., 2012,Study1and2;
Tuddenham et al., 2009). Participation was determined by counting and comparing
group members’contributions (interaction with the interface or turn-taking in commu-
nication), by calculating an equity index (e.g. GINI index) or by self-reports. Results
reveal inconsistent findings, with certain advantages of LID use over other media.
Three studies found positive effects (Schneider et al., 2012; Buisine et al., 2012,Study1;
Tuddenham et al., 2009); one study found mixed positive and null effects (Shaer et al.,
2011), two studies revealed null effects (Clayphan et al., 2016; Piper & Hollan, 2009)and
one study reported negative effects (Buisine et al., 2012,Study,p.2).
In the five studies that compared LID to paper (Clayphan et al., 2016;Piper&
Hollan, 2009;Buisineetal.,2012, Study 1 and 2) no clear advantage of LIDs over paper
environments could be found. Schneider et al. (2012) compared a tabletop interface with
a pen-and-paper setting for the collaborative task of learning genetics. They found that
turn-taking was much more prevalent in the tabletop condition. Similarly, Buisine et al.
(2012, Study, p. 1) investigated the equity of participation in a brainstorming task in
a tabletop and flip-chart condition and found significantly more equitable verbal con-
tributions in the tabletop condition. Negative effects regarding the equity of participation
in LID conditions were reported in their second study. Buisine et al. (2012,Study,p.2)
report lower equity in the LID condition regarding the indicators of information request,
action request, communicative gestures and total behaviors as compared to the paper
condition. The comparison between LIDs and single-user environments is very limited as
only two empirical studies were identified (Shaer et al., 2011; Tuddenham et al., 2009).
Although the results point to positive effects for physical participation (Shaer et al., 2011),
more studies are needed to shed light on this issue.
12 M Mateescu et al.
3.1.4. Coordination flow
Beyond the concept of awareness, which is based on an individual’s understanding
of another individual’s actions, LIDs also shape users’collective coordinative moves, i.e.
the ways in which groups orchestrate, link and integrate group members’contributions.
All six studies on coordination-flow found positive effects of LIDs as compared with
traditional media (Clayphan et al., 2016;Hwang&Su,2012;Jetteretal.,2011; Nussbau-
mer et al., 2012; Piper & Hollan, 2009; Rogers & Lindley, 2004). LIDs prompt groups to
work in a more collaborative manner, e.g. as measured in terms of time spent by group
members working on the same issues (Clayphan et al., 2016;Hwang&Su,2012). LID
groups also exhibit higher levels of fluid interaction (Rogers & Lindley, 2004)andallow
for smoother transitions between different collaborative styles (Jetter et al., 2011). For
example, Jetter et al. (2011) found in their tabletop versus web-interface comparison that
collaborative work at the tabletop was characterized by smoother transitions between
tightly and loosely coupled interactions. Similarly, in their comparison of LIDs and paper-
based collaboration, Piper and Hollan (2009) observed a more serial and less integrated
collaboration style in the paper condition, in which one student tended to remain passive
while another one worked. Comparisons with both single-user environments (Hwang &
Su, 2012;Jetteretal.,2011; Rogers & Lindley, 2004) and paper environments (Clayphan
et al., 2016; Nussbaumer et al., 2012; Piper & Hollan, 2009) show higher levels of
coordination in the LID conditions.
3.1.5. Artifact interaction
LIDs do not only allow group members to engage with one another in concerted
coordination flow, but they offer, too, the opportunity to jointly build and manipulate
external representations (digital artifacts). Four studies examined artifact interaction,
which involves activities such as adding, modifying and deleting notes as well as
sketching. Three of these studies found positive effects (Higgins, Mercier, Burd, &
Joyce-Gibbons, 2012;Hwang&Su,2012; Piper & Hollan, 2009) and the fourth study
found no effects of artifact interaction (Wozniak et al., 2016). As compared with paper
environments, the use of LIDs led to higher levels of the shared viewing of artifacts
(Higgins et al., 2012). It also resulted in an increase in active explorative behaviors
during the collaborative task-solving process, with participants in the LID condition
more often entering answers instead of looking at an answer key (Piper & Hollan, 2009).
In addition, LID use also prompted participants to add more notes and sketch more
extensively implying that they engaged more actively with the problem space (Piper &
Hollan, 2009). In comparison with single-user environments, positive effects on artifact
interaction were also observed, with participants performing more manipulative acts on
the external representations (Hwang & Su, 2012). In essence, and despite a limited
number of studies, the results show evidence of LIDs prompting higher levels of artifact
interaction than paper and single-user environments.
Human–Computer Interaction 13
3.1.6. Reasoning levels
Collaborative problem-solving processes depend on group members’ability to
establish a joint conceptual problem space (Mercier & Higgins, 2014), or, more
broadly viewed, common ground (Clark & Brennan, 1991). In so doing, group
members express and share their mental models of the problem definition and the
problem-solving strategy. The main argumentation in the analyzed studies was that
reasoning strategies are facilitated directly by using shared interactive representations
and, indirectly, in that LIDs foster more equitable participation, which in turn
amounts to higher levels of reasoning (Wallace, Scott, & MacGregor, 2013). Reason-
ing strategies were measured for example through the quality of insights expressed
through higher levels of articulation and reflection (Shaer et al., 2011), the devel-
opment of more accurate mental models (Higgins et al., 2012) and of more
systematic search strategies (Jetter et al., 2011). Of the six studies that examined
levels of reasoning, three found evidence of higher levels of reasoning in the LID
condition (Jetter et al., 2011; J. Liu, Qin, Yang, Yu, & Shi, 2015; Shaer et al., 2011),
one study found both positive and null effects (Higgins et al., 2012), one study
found no effect (Schneider & Blikstein, 2018) while the last one reported negative
effects (Piper & Hollan, 2009). That is, all studies which compared LIDs with PC
conditions reported positive effects (Jetter et al., 2011; J. Liu et al., 2015; Shaer et al.,
2011). Comparisons of LIDs with paper environments were less clear, with studies
reporting mixed (Higgins et al., 2012) and even negative effects (Piper & Hollan,
2009). In sum, the effects seem to depend on whether LIDs are compared to PC or
In conclusion, the analyses of collaborative processes suggest that LIDs have
relatively clear advantages over other media regarding the indicators of coordination
strategies, workspace awareness, artifact interaction and reasoning levels (albeit the
latter only if compared to PC conditions). The expectations that LID use would
positively impact verbal and gestural communication and equity of participation
were only confirmed in about half of the studies.
3.2. Collaborative outcomes
The second research question (RQ2) addresses the outcomes –that is the
“results and by-products of team activity”(Mathieu et al., 2008)–associated with
the collaborative use of LIDs in comparison with traditional media (paper and
single-user environments). 16 studies compared the outcomes emerging when using
LID with those of traditional media (paper and single-user environments). The
outcomes of group activity can be classified into three main categories: (1) knowledge
outcomes: measured as the enhancement of knowledge gained through the collabora-
tive engagement, (2) task-related outcomes: measured as group performance, e.g. quality
and quantity, and (3) social outcomes: measured as groups’affective reactions, e.g.
satisfaction with the process and perceived trustworthiness of the encounter (see
14 M Mateescu et al.
3.2.1. Knowledge outcomes
Knowledge gains that arise from collaborative efforts are valuable from the
standpoint of lifelong and work-based learning (Kayes, Kayes, & Kolb, 2005) and
are of particular interest to the community of Computer Supported Collaborative
Learning (CSCL), which specifically examines the development of knowledge and
skills as a product of collaborative activities. The analysis suggests clear advantages
of LIDs over other media, with five (out of six) studies reporting positive effects
(Hwang & Su, 2012; Martin-SanJose, Juan, Segui, & Garcia-Garcia, 2015; Schneider
& Blikstein, 2018; Schneider et al., 2012; Shaer et al., 2011) and one study reporting
no effect (Piper & Hollan, 2009). The positive effects of LIDs were shown in
comparison to paper conditions (Martin-SanJose et al., 2015; Piper & Hollan, 2009;
Schneider et al., 2012) and single-user environments (Hwang & Su, 2012; Shaer
et al., 2011). One example is the study of Shaer et al. (2011) who compared a LID
with a PC environment in connection with the accomplishment of a knowledge task
(exploring genomic information, e.g. investigating gene mutations). Benefits to
learning and understanding materialized in participants in the LID condition who
achieved a higher percentage of correct answers in a survey-based quiz. The authors
ascribed the positive effects to LIDs’capacity to enable the exploration of a large
number of hypotheses and stimulate reflective problem-solving. To conclude, there
is considerable support for the assumption that LIDs lead to greater gains in
knowledge, especially in pursuit of problem-solving tasks.
3.2.2. Task-related outcomes
Eleven out of the nineteen studies comparing LIDs to traditional media
reported one or more measures related to the accomplishment of tasks. Yet the
results offer anything but a clear picture. At best they provide supporting evidence
that LIDs are as good as traditional media with regard to task-related performance.
Four studies found positive effects (Clayphan et al., 2016; Liu et al., 2015; Rogers
FIGURE 4. Synthesis of the results for outcome measures.
Subcategory Description/examples of measures Summarized findings
Increases in knowledge through
collaborative activities; outcomes
determined through knowledge tests
LIDs use has positive effects over other
media; small number of studies
Task accomplishment or performance;
measured as qualitative and quantitative
indices applied to the end result of
group’s activity or the processes leading
to it, e.g. quantity and quality of ideas for
brainstorming tasks, time on task.
Ambiguous findings; LIDs are at least as
good as traditional media for task-related
Subjective evaluation of the quality of the
social encounter, e.g. shifts in attitudes
toward others, trustworthiness.
Limited number of studies, tentative
evidence suggests the advantages of LID
over the use of other media.
Human–Computer Interaction 15
et al., 2009; Clayphan et al., 2011), two studies found mixed positive and null effects
(Wozniak et al., 2016; Zancanaro, Stock, Eisikovits, Koren, & Weiss, 2012), four
studies found null effects (Higgins et al., 2012; Hwang & Su, 2012; Jetter et al., 2011;
Buisine et al., 2012, Study, p. 1) and one study revealed negative effects (Buisine
et al., 2012, Study, p. 2). The ambiguity of the findings is exemplified by three
studies that compared LIDs to paper environments in the performance of a creative
task (brainstorming). Although the same type of outcomes was measured (produc-
tion of ideas as expressed by the number of ideas) the findings vary considerably.
Clayphan et al. (2016) report positive effects, Buisine et al. (2012, Study, p. 1) report
no effects, and Buisine et al. (2012, Study, p. 2) report negative effects. Studies
found also contradictory results for objective and subjective task-related outcome
measures. For example, Zancanaro et al. (2012) compared LIDs to the use of PCs in
solving a negotiation task (creating a joint narrative on a regional conflict). Although
the number of multimedia elements created in the LID condition was higher, the
satisfaction with the task outcome did not differ between conditions. Inconsistent
results with regard to task-related outcomes, in particular with attention to effi-
ciency, might be explained by the fact that LID technology is still in its infant stages
of the type of tasks used in the empirical studies. The lack of effects or even
negative effects could be linked to difficulties in preforming the task, as argued by
Hwang and Su (2012) who consider that the longer completion time in the LID
condition was due to the low performance of drag and drop actions.
3.2.3. Social outcomes
This category has received less attention, with only four studies reporting
measures a range of social outcomes. Studies examined the satisfaction with the
social encounter and feelings of trustworthiness among group members (Nussbau-
mer et al., 2012), shifts in attitudes toward others (Zancanaro et al., 2012), and
feelings of motivation and enjoyment resulting from that activity (Schneider et al.,
2012; Shaer et al., 2011). The results unambiguously show the advantages of LIDs,
with all studies reporting positive effects as compared to paper (Nussbaumer et al.,
2012; Schneider et al., 2012) and single-user environments (Shaer et al., 2011;
Zancanaro et al., 2012). For example, Nussbaumer et al. (2012) examined the
accomplishment of a financial advisory task by comparing LID and paper condi-
tions, reporting that clients perceived the adviser in the LID condition to be more
trustworthy. Moreover, the ways in which space and information was shared on the
LID was found to contribute to an overall increase in clients’satisfaction (Nuss-
baumer et al., 2012). Despite the small number of studies, these results suggest that
LIDs offer a clear advantage over the use of other media concerning social
16 M Mateescu et al.
Differentiating the control conditions, i.e. paper versus single-user environ-
ments, can help to illuminate the ambiguous findings regarding collaborative out-
comes. In comparison with single-user environments, LID-based collaboration
resulted in superior outcomes in four out of seven studies (Hwang et al., 2015;
Liu et al., 2015; Shaer et al., 2012; Rogers et al., 2009) and in mixed positive and null
effects in one study (Zancanaro et al., 2012) while the last two studies report null
effects (Hwang & Su, 2012; Jetter et al., 2011). It can be argued that LIDs slightly
outperformed single-user environments in terms of collaborative outcomes, but the
comparison of LIDs with paper conditions is more opaque, with three out of nine
studies reporting clearly positive effects (Martin-SanJose et al., 2015; Nussbaumer
et al., 2012; Schneider et al., 2012), five studies reporting null or mixed positive and
negative effects (Clayphan et al., 2016; Higgins et al., 2012; Piper & Hollan, 2009;
Wozniak et al., 2016; Buisine et al., 2012, Study, p. 1), one study reporting negative
effects (Buisine et al., 2012, Study, p. 2). This is suggestive of the conclusion that
LIDs are “only”as good as paper environments.
In conclusion, LIDs have a positive impact on collaborative work in terms of
knowledge and social outcomes. They also tend to have positive effects on task-
related outcomes in comparison with single-user environments. However, the
results are mixed when task-related outcome indicators are compared between
LIDs versus paper-based conditions.
3.3. Design and influencing factors of large interactive displays
In the sections above, we presented studies comparing LIDs with other media,
particularly with the use of paper and single-user environments. In the next part, we
will analyze studies on differences in collaborative processes and outcomes that
result from variations within the design options of LIDs (RQ3). The findings are
presented according to the following classification: influencing factors resulting
from technology affordances (input device, workspace setting and display size,
knowledge representation, group orchestration mechanisms), task and group char-
acteristics, and context affordances. In so doing, we account for varying ways in
which LIDs can be designed and used.
3.3.1. Technology affordances
A majority of the studies (n = 19) contrasted different input devices and
display sizes. The validity of the relatively large number of studies in this category
is limited by the variety of influencing factors, which restricts the strength of the
184.108.40.206. Input device. The properties of the input device condition refer to the
manipulability of digital content, for example devices for direct input (e.g. multi-
Human–Computer Interaction 17
touch) compared to indirect input (e.g. multi-mouse). Four studies report results on
the comparison of multi-touch with multi-mouse or tilt conditions (Homaeian,
Goyal, Wallace, & Scott, 2018; Jakobsen & Hornbaek, 2016; Shaer et al., 2011,
2012). The comparison of multi-touch and multiple-mouse conditions (Jakobsen &
Hornbaek, 2016; Shaer et al., 2011,2012) and of multi-touch and tilt (Homaeian et al.,
2018) show minor improvements regarding collaborative processes. Empirical
results suggest advantages of multi-touch conditions in terms of physical participa-
tion, cognitive processing and problem-solving strategy (Shaer et al., 2011,2012)as
well as a larger number of coordinative utterances and a lower number of disen-
gagement utterances (Shaer et al., 2012). Further advantages of multi-touch were
more manipulative actions of digital content (moving, resizing, rotating) and
a greater extent of cognitive activities, with group members spending more time
on reflective activities and articulating a larger number of insights (Shaer et al.,
2012). Yet two of the studies found only partial or no support for the advantages of
direct (touch) versus indirect (mouse) input with respect to awareness and participa-
tion. Jakobsen and Hornbaek (2016) reported that, whereas self-reported awareness
was higher using the touch interface: the qualitative observation showed less
interference in the multi-mouse condition despite the increase in parallel work.
With regard to participants’verbal participation, Shaer et al. (2011) found no
differences between touch and multiple-mouse conditions.
The effects of varying input devices on collaborative outcomes are ambiguous.
Comparing a multi-touch and a multi-mouse condition, one study reports positive
effects on learning and enjoyment for the touch condition (Shaer et al., 2011). But
another study found negative effects for satisfaction and efficiency in one of the
intellective tasks in the touch condition –albeit no differences with respect to the
negotiation task (Jakobsen & Hornbaek, 2016). In essence, although there are some
differences between multi-mouse and multi-touch conditions, and some papers
favor the touch condition, the studies do not allow for any definite conclusions to
be drawn regarding input devices.
220.127.116.11. Workspace arrangement and display size. LIDs vary in display orien-
tation (e.g. vertical or horizontal) and size, and they can be part of a multi-device
setting in which tablets are used as personal workspaces in addition to the use of
a joint LID workspace. The physical orientation of the LID (vertical vs. horizontal) was
investigated in two studies (Clayphan et al., 2016; Rogers & Lindley, 2004) which
focused on different aspects of the collaborative processes. Rogers and Lindley
(2004) showed that group members in the horizontal condition switched more
frequently between roles, explored more ideas, and reported higher levels of aware-
ness of each other’s actions. Also, Clayphan et al. (2016) reported certain advantages
in the horizontal condition, which manifested in more equal interaction. However,
they found no differences with respect to group-collaboration strategy and level of
interest. In essence, both papers report the collaborative advantages of the
18 M Mateescu et al.
horizontal arrangement of the displays; however, these findings also need to be
treated with caution in view of the limited number of existing studies.
In addition to orientation, one study suggests that the display size might have
relevant implications for collaboration. Zagermann et al. (2016) varied LID size
(small versus medium versus large) in a sense-making task (solving a hidden plot).
The large-display condition was linked to higher levels of artifact interaction and
more integrative behavior in terms of structuring and manipulating the digital
content. The authors also observed more explorative and playful interactions with
the larger display (as expressed in a significantly higher number of movements).
However, not all aspects of group collaboration were positively affected. For
example, the respective conditions showed no significant difference in their levels
of communication, and the larger-sized interfaces went along with reduced eye
contact among participants (Zagermann et al., 2016). Furthermore, they found no
relation between tabletop size and gains in knowledge. In summary, the results
suggest that the size of the display impacts collaborative process indicators, but the
evidence is very thin.
A key benefit of LIDs, namely workspace awareness, is grounded in the
provision of one, shared workspace instead of facilitating work that is distributed
across several screens, which is known as a multi-device setting (Rogers & Lindley,
2004). The second aspect was confirmed in a study in which group members found
it difficult to maintain awareness of one another’s actions when working with two
large displays with different orientations (Rogers & Lindley, 2004). However,
designs in which a LID was complemented by tablets (individual workspaces) did
in fact positively influence users’sharing behavior, though no improvements of
task-related outcomes were observed (Wallace et al., 2013; Wozniak et al., 2016).
More specifically, these settings significantly increased the number of slide-sharing
actions in the tabletop-plus-tablets condition as opposed to the tabletop-only
condition (Wallace et al., 2013). Albeit the limited number of studies, tentative
evidence points to the advantages of adding personal workspaces to shared ones
and also suggests detrimental effects of adding a second (shared) LID.
18.104.22.168. Knowledge representation. The way LIDs represent knowedge
appears to be relevant for collaborative work. A study comparing the sole repre-
sentation of ideas with representations of both ideas and their interconnections (in
the form of graphic ropes) for a brainstorming task found the latter condition to be
linked to more original ideas and longer trains of thought (Afonso Jaco et al., 2013).
However, no differences were observed with respect to the number of ideas
generated, the number of trains of thought, or the diversity of ideas (number of
semantic categories). A second study focusing on the use of features that allow for
the contextual augmentation of knowledge representations and structures also
found positive effects for the augmented knowledge representation (Beheshti
et al., 2017). This study used a knowledge-construction task (consisting of an
electron simulation) in comparing the use of paper, tabletop, and tabletop plus
Human–Computer Interaction 19
handheld device settings and found better results for the third condition. In this
latter condition (tabletop plus) the participants could, in the sense of augmented
reality, additionally use a handheld tablet to view electrons in motion and explore
how the circuit functioned in situ. This was achieved by zooming in or tapping on
a component to inspect its electrical measures. Meanwhile the tabletop-only condi-
tion allowed users to view an electron simulation alongside the electrical circuit on
the same display. The augmented representation outperformed the other two
conditions with respect to the accuracy of mental models and engagement with
the task, supporting participants in making meaningful connections between repre-
sentations (Beheshti et al., 2017).
22.214.171.124. Group orchestration affordances. In addition to features that allow
for the representation and manipulation of knowledge, a few studies investigated
mechanisms that were geared toward framing social interaction, either by providing
ongoing feedback on group processes and outcomes or by pre-scripting the social
process. Mirroring tools collect information about a group’s processes, e.g. the speak-
ing time of individual members (Bachour, Kaplan, & Dillenbourg, 2010)or
a group’s performance (Chen & Chiu, 2016b) and play this information back to
the group, which in turn affects the collaboration. The effects of these feedback
mechanisms were positive. They included a greater acquisition of knowledge as
produced by the mirroring of group performance (Chen & Chiu, 2016b). Displaying
the speaking time of individual members was also beneficial but only in groups that
valued balanced participation more generally (Bachour et al., 2010).
Orchestration in the form of scripts likewise proved valuable. The use of
scripts was found to be an efficient strategy in guiding groups’collaborative process
when compared to groups operating in the same setting without scripts. Chen and
Chiu (2016a) used scripts that structured groups’interaction and elicited effective
group interaction –i.e. asking questions, providing feedback, making suggestions
and sharing ideas. Implementing scripts that raise discussion intensity, balance
discussion biases (proportion of shared and unshared information) and foster
mutual understanding has also been shown to bring higher rates in task solving
besides the expected improvement of the collaborative process, e.g. higher discus-
sion intensity, lower bias, higher levels of reasoning (Bause, Brich, Wesslein, &
A subtle but as effective group orchestration affordance can be achieved by
designing interfaces so that they reinforce group members’engagement, for example
by offering shared controls as opposed to separated ones (Morris, Paepcke, Winograd, &
Stamberger, 2006) or by providing a central collection area (Shadiev, Hwang, Huang, &
Yang, 2015). Shared controls contributed to the equity of collaboration (Morris
et al., 2006) however with no impact on the amount of verbal communication and
in the task outcome (number of times that pictures were correctly labeled). In
another study a central collection area increased collaborative interactions (number
of requests) and simultaneously reduced the number of exchange errors with a faster
20 M Mateescu et al.
time-on-task (Shadiev et al., 2015). To conclude, the results show some positive
effects for shared controls and collection areas, thus pinpointing the possible usage
of such affordances for regulating and guiding collaborative work.
To conclude, the results point to workspace arrangements as well as knowl-
edge-representation and group-orchestration affordances having relevant implica-
tions for collaborative processes and outcomes; yet due to the relatively small
number of studies per category, further research is needed to corroborate these
3.3.2. Task and group characteristics
In comparison with technology affordances, other influencing factors, i.e. task
and group characteristics, have received less attention. Four studies investigated
various task characteristics (Jakobsen & Hornbaek, 2016; Tang et al., 2006; Schmitt,
Buisine, Chaboissier, Aoussat, & Vernier, 2012; Liu, Chapuis, Beaudouin-Lafon, &
Lecolinet, 2016) and group characteristics were examined as an independent variable
in only one study (Martin-SanJose et al., 2015).
Task characteristics (e.g. task type, task interdependency, time pressure) are
viewed as critical to understanding and predicting group effectiveness (Straus, 1999),
which is also reflected in the present review. The task type (e.g. problem solving vs.
negotiation) was found to influence both collaborative processes and the outcomes of
groups working with a LID. Jakobsen and Hornbaek (2016) found a higher equity of
participation for the problem-solving task compared with the negotiation task when
using a LID in a posttest within-subjects experimental design with two factors (input
method and task type). Yet more studies are needed to understand the differences
between other types of tasks, for example problem-solving and creativity tasks.
Task interdependency, i.e. the extent to which group members are encouraged or
prompted to work together, is another important characteristic that influences colla-
borative processes (Tang et al., 2006, Study 2; Liu et al., 2016). The same task can be
framed as highly interdependent by increasing the joint responsibility for the task
outcome, which in turn impacts the collaborative processes. Comparing individual
and compromise task-solving strategies with a LID, Tang et al. (2006,Study,p.2)
found differing collaborative styles among groups. Participants in the compromise-
route condition, who had to come up with only one solution to satisfy the demands of
both travel time and financial cost, spent more time working together than the
participants in the individual-routes condition who generated two independent routes,
one for travel and one for financial cost. Parallelization (loose versus close collaboration)
and the availability of shared-interaction support –which was implemented as a parallel
layout versus a sequential style –was found to sway data manipulation on vertical
displays. More specifically, a close collaboration style (participants were “forced”to
perform each subtask together) increased the efficiency of individual pick-and-drops
(the movement time for pick-and-drops) in the distant layout as compared to loose-
collaboration (where the subtasks could be performed individually) (Liu et al., 2016).
Human–Computer Interaction 21
Taking a deeper look at these studies it becomes evident that interdependencies
among different types of influencing factors (e.g. task type and technology affordances)
should not be neglected and may explain some of the seemingly contradictory results
with respect to the role of LIDs in collaborative processes and outcomes. Tang et al.
(2006, Study, p. 2) found a significant interaction between technology design (interac-
tion technique: filters versus lenses) and task characteristics (individual versus compro-
mise-route type) insofar as the participants collaborated less intensively in the lenses and
individual condition. Regarding task-solving efficiency, there are indications that input
type (touch vs. multiple mouse) and task type (negotiation versus intellective) are
interdependent since groups were faster in using the mouse as an input device for the
puzzle task (intellective). However, no differences were found for the newspaper task
(negotiation) (Jakobsen & Hornbaek, 2016). Two different types of tasks were used in
this experiment: a negotiation task with conflicting goals and a problem solving task
with common goals that required close cooperation. Even if only a few experiments
examined task characteristics and the interaction between technical design factors and
tasks, the results suggest that task characteristics are likely to influence both collabora-
tive processes and outcomes.
Group characteristics (e.g. group size) were investigated only in one study
and the results showed that group size (groups of two to twelve members) did not
influence learning outcomes (Martin-SanJose et al., 2015). Even though the results
do not pinpoint any differences between the size of groups, such results are scarce,
and more research is needed to investigate how variations in the size of groups and
displays can ultimately affect collaborative processes.
Context (e.g. characteristics of the physical space, organizational factors) can also
have “significant consequences over the ordering of the activity of individuals and
groups”(O’Hara, Perry, Churchill, & Russell, 2003, p. xxiv). Context was investigated in
three studies (Chen & Chiu, 2016b; Mercier, Higgins, & Joyce-Gibbons, 2016;Schmitt
et al., 2012). The physical positioning of LIDs in the room and that of groups working with
the different LIDs in relation to each other can result in qualitative differences in the
collaborative processes. Mercier et al. (2016) found that the seating configuration
influenced students’behavior, with higher levels of talk in the centered-room condition
(where the tabletops faced toward the center of the room to form a circle) as compared
to a traditional forward-facing room (where the tabletops faced the interactive white-
board). Organizational factors, such as social comparison and intergroup competition,also
affected collaborative processes and outcomes. Investigating a brainstorming task with
a LID, Schmitt et al. (2012) varied environmental conditions by creating social pressure
by mirroring individual activity and thereby showed that organizational factors can
change task outcomes. They report an increase in the number and quality of ideas in the
social-pressure condition. Chen and Chiu (2016b)foundthatintergroup competition sup-
ports higher levels of engagement. Even if the findings drawn on thin evidence, they
22 M Mateescu et al.
suggest that, in the design of shared workspaces it is necessary to consider a variety of
contextual factors, e.g. location and positioning of LIDs in the room as well as softer
factors, such as social pressure and intergroup competition.
To conclude, technology affordances as well as task and group characteristics
along with context affordances might well have an influence on collaborative processes
and outcomes. There are indications of a positive impact associated with affordances
that keep participants more engaged with each other (shared controls, smaller table size,
round-table setting) and help to increase the group’s meta-reflection (mirroring tools) as
well as multi-device settings with a clear delimitation of personal and group space.
Research into group orchestration and knowledge representation on LIDs is promising
but still in its infancy. Yet the results are underpinned by a limited number of studies and
therefore need to be interpreted with caution.
4.1. LID effects on collaborative processes and outcomes
In order to better understand the effects of LIDs on collaborative processes
and outcomes, we reviewed high quality, experimental studies using a coding
scheme that draws on established models of team-collaboration (see Figure 2).
Half of the studies examined (n = 20) concentrated on the comparison of LIDs
and traditional media, such as paper and/or single-user environments (PCs, laptops
or tablets). The main advantage of comparative studies is that they evaluate the
usefulness of LIDs not in itself but through the comparison of benefits and
limitations with alternatives (Buisine et al., 2012). The underlying rationale is that
different affordances offered by the media shape collaborative work and outcomes
in specific ways as shown in Section 3.1 and 3.2.
4.1.1. LID and collaborative processes
Among the studies analyzed, the conclusion that LIDs support collaborative
processes was relatively consistent, as positive effects have been reported for several
key variables: In sum, LIDs contribute to efficient group collaboration styles,
enhance awareness and artifact interaction, produce higher levels of reasoning and
help develop accurate mental models –better than paper and single-user environ-
ments. However, according to the findings, not all collaboration processes benefit
from the affordances offered by LIDs. For example, the reviewed studies revealed
mixed results with regard to verbal and gestural communication. Whereas beneficial
effects were reported in the comparison of LIDs with single-user environments, no
clear advantage was found for settings in which LIDs were compared with pen-and-
paper environments, particularly when a round-table arrangement was employed
(e.g. Buisine et al., 2012). Results are also inconclusive concerning participation
patterns and the equity of contributions, i.e. in terms of turn-taking and physical
Human–Computer Interaction 23
participation, regarding which an almost equal number of studies with positive and
negative effects were found.
The comparable effects of LID and pen-and-paper environments on verbal
and gestural communication or participation might conceptually be explained by the
two similar sets of affordances that these media share –particularly when compared
with single-user environments: Firstly, the (physical) table arrangement and, sec-
ondly, multiple entry points, i.e. the number of input devices or touch points that
users have at their disposal when interacting simultaneously with the interface.
Findings from the present review suggest that it is the number of entry points
which impacts collaborative processes and not the modality of the input, i.e. touch
vs. mouse. While touch –as compared with one-mouse conditions –generally
improves collaboration, the comparison of multiple input devices is more ambig-
uous: multi-touch does not necessarily lead to qualitatively better collaboration
processes than multi-mouse. The studies reviewed suggest that it is the combination
of multiple entry points (touch or mouse) and the around-the-table affordance which
amounts to improved collaborative processes when working at a LID. This affirms
Scott et al.’s(2003) suggestion, who pointed in their review to the role of simulta-
neous user interaction on LIDs as a distinguishing feature, noting, however, that
LIDs at that time tended to limit users’interactions by having them share one input
device. More recent research also shows that it is LIDs’affordance of featuring
simultaneous collaboration which makes them superior to traditional pen-and-paper
settings (see Piper & Hollan, 2009). This conclusion strengthens the recommenda-
tion of Bellucci et al. (2014) who say that the design of LIDs should not concentrate
overly on the input modalities, i.e. touch vs mouse, but on the ways in which
different modalities can “cooperate in the same ecosystem”(p. 32:23).
As already discussed, LIDs outperform paper environments in some respects,
and this also warrants interpretation. Drawing on the findings from this review, one
could argue that it is particularly the integration of three affordances that shape
collaboration on LIDs and make it more effective than paper-based collaboration.
These are the aforementioned affordances regarding multiple entry points and the
around-the-table setting, in connection with the affordance of interactivity. Although
a pen-and-paper setting offers an around-the-table setting, it constrains the level of
concerted artifact manipulation. On a LID, users can simultaneously and easily
change digital artifacts at low communication costs. That is, they can create external
representations, e.g. by drawing or writing, and moving them around whilst being
able to monitor other members’actions. In other words, the interactivity offered at
LIDs permits users’joint, synchronous and synchronized engagement with the
artifacts. As the present results show, LIDs permit higher levels of awareness
combined with increased artifact interaction and coordination flows that allow for
more parallel work compared with the more serial collaboration style typically
featured in traditional environments.
24 M Mateescu et al.
4.1.2. LID and task, social and knowledge related outcomes of group work
In addition to processes, this review has also examined the effects of LIDs on
social, task- and knowledge-related outcomes of group work. This is an aspect that
previous reviews have examined only to a limited extent. The present results on
knowledge outcomes corroborate the previous review of Higgins et al. (2011) from
classroom contexts, who conclude that “multi-touch tables influence the way
learning groups interact, with potential for influencing learning outcomes”(p.
528). The authors argue that tabletops in classrooms can support learning. This
review extends this rationale, not only by incorporating a larger number of studies
but also by suggesting that the positive knowledge effects of LIDs use also unfold
outside classic formal education settings. This can be relevant for knowledge
intensive organizations, too, which need to ensure the co-creation of ideas and
the joint problem solving of actors along the value chain (Aarikka-Stenroos &
Jaakkola, 2012). This is supported for example by LIDs’capacity of enabling the
exploration of a large number of hypotheses and stimulate reflective problem-
solving (Shaer et al., 2011).
By contrast, the findings regarding task-related outcomes of LID-based colla-
boration are inconsistent and indicate no clear advantage of LIDs over traditional
media. It is again the differentiation of the control conditions, i.e., of pen-and-paper
and single-user environments, that can help to further interpret the underlying
dynamics. LID-based collaboration resulted in superior outcomes compared with
single-user environments (Hwang et al., 2015; Liu et al., 2015; Shaer et al., 2012;
Rogers et al., 2009), but, for particular types of outcomes, it did not prove superior
to paper environments. The similar effects of pen-and-paper and LID conditions on
outcomes in some categories, e.g. higher number of ideas and more categories (see
Clayphan et al., 2011)–can be explained by the affordances that they have in
common, i.e., the around-the-table setting and multiple entry points.
4.1.3. LID and the relation between process and outcome
Another relevant aspect in understanding the role of LIDs for collaborative
outcomes is to consider the mediating role that collaborative processes take in
facilitating outcomes (Mathieu et al., 2008). Even though the quality of collaborative
processes has often been linked to higher group performance (Mathieu et al., 2008),
this relationship is not necessarily a straightforward one. Groups are complex
systems and highly dependent on a series of contingent factors: “a single basic
process can lead to both good versus poor performance, depending on the context
in which that process is enabled”(Kerr & Tindale, 2004, p. 641). For example, the
amount of communication leads to better performance in some contexts but can be
detrimental in others, e.g. by reducing the allocated time for individual production
(Kraut, 2003). Even though most of the studies reviewed here report both process
and outcome measures, they did not investigate the mediating role of collaborative
processes on outcomes. Only four studies did so and all reported a positive relation
Human–Computer Interaction 25
(Hwang & Su, 2012; Schneider & Blikstein, 2018; Schneider et al., 2012; Wallace
et al., 2013). Without considering the relation between collaborative processes and
outcomes in a comprehensive model, the way in which technology conditions the
development of collaborative outcomes cannot be fully understood, and this is
clearly a path for investigation to be considered in future work.
4.2. Understanding the design space of LIDS
4.2.1. Effects of LID design
A third goal of this paper is to address the specific affordances of LIDs that
impact collaborative processes and outcomes. This review examined a plethora of
design LID-based modifications which have been implemented and tested to date.
These can be basically grouped into three categories: technology affordances, task
and group characteristics, and context affordances.
The range of technology affordances provided by LIDs is very broad covering
the physical design of the workspace (e.g. adding personal spaces and control areas),
interactional affordances (e.g. augmented reality and manipulation options of external
representations) and functionality that explicitly guides group behavior (e.g. mirroring
tools and scripts). The findings of the reviewed studies point to specific affordances
that enable effective collaboration. Understanding what affordances can enable which
aspects of the collaborative work translates in actionable design decisions.
The first type of affordances relates to the physical design of the workspace.The
arrangement and number of entry points as well as the use of partitioned work-
spaces have been studied more extensively and thus allow more robust conclu-
sions. An appropriate number of entry points afford users’joint, synchronous and
synchronized engagement with the artifacts as the comparison of the LIDs with
single-user environments reveal (Hwang et al., 2015;Liuetal.,2015; Shaer et al.,
2012;Rogersetal.,2009). These translate into higher levels of awareness,
increased artifact interaction and better coordination flow, and thus need to be
implemented accordingly when designing interfaces for LIDs. Touch vs. multiple-
mouse input devices were explored in various studies (Jakobsen & Hornbaek,
2016; Shaer et al., 2011,2012), however the inconsistent findings are difficult to
translate into design moves that would enable collaborative work as they are not as
Affordances which are created by partitioning the joint workspace or by adding
additional personal spaces to a joint space help facilitate a group’s coordinative
processes because they clarify individual responsibilities which can otherwise result
in ambiguity. This is largely supported by the results of the reviewed studies. For
example, results have shown that multi-device settings which consist of a joint space
(LID) and individual workspaces (tablets) positively influence users’sharing beha-
vior (Wallace et al., 2013; Wozniak et al., 2016). Shared control or collection areas,
similar to personal spaces, have the potential to clarify individual responsibilities,
keep participants more engaged with each other (Morris et al., 2006), and to increase
26 M Mateescu et al.
collaborative interactions (Shadiev et al., 2015). The differentiation between perso-
nal and joint work areas can alleviate groups’needs for explicit coordination, and so
groups can achieve a more fluid but still concerted coordination between its
members. Coordination between team members happens implicitly as does the
fluidity of sharing –which is defined as the ease with which roles can be switched
or as the process of interweaving user actions (Hornecker, Marshall, & Rogers,
2007)–emerges as a function of the carefully designed workspace arrangement.
Affordances for interaction reach beyond touch or mouse input. One aspect is
augmentation. Conceptually speaking, the benefits offered by an “augmented LID”
can be explained by the scaffolding mechanism, which “takes the form of externa-
lizations of cognition that directly support team-level processes by helping to
mediate and support the interaction between individual and team-level cognitive
activity”(Fiore & Wiltshire, 2016, p. 11). Technological scaffolds help group
members engage more with each other through the discussion of information
and the revision of ideas (Fiore & Wiltshire, 2016; McLoughlin & Luca, 2002).
Putting an augmented reality layer upon an interactive tabletop has led to richer
forms of engagement as compared with the classic LID condition (Beheshti et al.,
The affordances of LID which provide opportunities for joint external representations
(i.e. information archive mitigating the demands made on memory) make them
cognitive tools which enable effective group work. Groups need to jointly create and
alter external representations in order to mitigate their cognitive processing (Fiore &
Wiltshire, 2016;Wilson,2002). For example, the ‘trains-of-thought’brainstorming
interface implemented by Afonso Jaco et al. (2013) affords offloading, i.e. making
the environment part of a distributed cognition setting (Wilson, 2002) in order to
reduce cognitive load. The visualization of trains-of-thought in this brainstorming
interface helps improve the production of ideas in terms of both quantity and quality
by linking semantically related concepts (Afonso Jaco et al., 2013). Showing links
between semantically related concepts activate concepts in people’slong-termmemory
and thus offload and stimulate cognition for higher creativity (Afonso Jaco et al., 2013).
Such affordances make up for the limited human capacity to store and access any
information that might be momentarily unavailable (Fiore & Wiltshire, 2016).
Mirroring tools and scripts are based on affordances that go beyond the mere
physicality of the workspace and impact group work by simplifying coordination
and intensifying individual engagement of group members. While personal work-
spaces and shared control areas implicitly clarify individual responsibilities, scripts
and mirroring tools explicitly regulate group behavior and help reduce the cost of
coordination in groups, which is known to lead to production losses (Kraut,
2003). Mirroring tools can strengthen group members’motivation, participation
patterns, engagement (Bachour et al., 2010) and learning achievements (Chen &
Chiu, 2016b). These affordances have been put in the investigative limelight
particularly by the CSCL community (e.g. Bachour et al., 2010), but could also
prove to be important in the fields of HCI and CSCW, in particular in the study
Human–Computer Interaction 27
of effective LIDs use. As an integrative part of LID design, scripts lead to the
internalization of metacognitive retention and retention in terms of knowledge
more in general (Chen & Chiu, 2016a) and thus impact group collaboration.
4.2.2. Characteristics of the task, the group and the context
Less apparent in their effect on collaborative processes and outcomes are the
characteristics of the task, the group and the context in which LIDs are used.
Evidence found in the studies reviewed suggest that these influencing factors impact
collaborative work at LIDs and these elements can can considerably influence group
collaboration. In their review, Scott et al. (2003) already pointed to the relevance of
task specific differences by finding the “best display configuration for a particular
task and user group needs”(p. 173). The present analysis suggests that this remains
an important but still under-researched issue, with some research pointing to the
necessity of adapting workspace settings according to the task (e.g. Jakobsen &
Hornbaek, 2016). Other issues include context factors, such as social comparison
and intergroup competition, which have shown to shape task outcomes, for exam-
ple in terms of an increased number and quality of ideas which are produced under
the social-pressure condition in a brainstorming task. These influencing factors have
shown to condition the ways in which groups engage with a task, for example by
increasing intragroup competition (Chen & Chiu, 2016b) and thus need to be
carefully considered in further empirical research. While the results on task, group
and context do not offer definitive design guidelines, they reiterate the relevance of
these factors and should encourage future thinking regarding how LIDs should be
fitted in a large ecosystem.
4.3. Limitations and directions of future research
This review is based on a systematic analysis of crucial journals and confer-
ences and has sought to consolidate the evolving field of LID research. Yet
a number of limitations related to the methods and the corpus of studies need to
be acknowledged, which offer pointers for future research. Firstly, while the review
summarizes the use of LIDs over a period of twenty years, the rapidly changing
technological landscape renders the findings a mere snapshot in time, and further
research needs to account for the ongoing technological development in this field.
This is particularly relevant as displays are moving from labs into the field, especially
work and learning settings where new usage scenarios and applications emerge.
Secondly, although the search was carried out in a systematic manner and resulted in
an initial number of 1491 articles, the body of literature we discovered was not
exhaustive, as some conferences and gray literature (e.g. project reports) were not
taken into account. With attention to the highly fragmented field of research, the
use of specific search terms might have excluded relevant articles that labeled their
research in different ways.
28 M Mateescu et al.
Thirdly, the methodological quality of published studies is another concern. Of
668 articles considered for the review based the screening criteria, 630 were deemed
not eligible for the review. The main reason was the lack of experimental metho-
dology in those studies. (Many papers focus on technological innovation.) The
exclusive analysis of experimental research is indicative of the robustness of certain
findings in this review. However, at the same time, the relatively small number of
experimental studies in certain categories also presents a limitation. While both
technological developments and observational studies are needed to deepen our
understanding of the role of LIDs in collaborative work, future research should
incorporate systematic experimentation to further substantiate the current evidence.
This is especially important for influencing factors like task and group characteristics
as well as context affordances, which are underpinned by a very limited number of
articles. Similarly, a topic worthy of future investigation concerns the interference
caused by the various influencing factors and how the combined effects of affor-
dances can be leveraged to improve the workspace setting.
Previous reviews (Scott et al., 2003) offered the advice to use traditional media
as control condition and this has also been the motivation for the research questions
one and two, which, we feel was a worthwhile endeavor. The research analyzed
clearly shows the advantages of LIDs over traditional media (particularly single-user
environments). In addition to clarifying some of the inclusive findings outlined,
future research should focus particularly on design and context variations within
LID use and how they help groups coordinate joint activities and support them in the
completion of a task.
The need for robust evaluation methodology, particularly regarding the mea-
sures of collaborative processes, has also been pointed out in previous reviews
(Scott et al., 2003). This is an avenue that still requires further exploration, together
with the need to corroborate outcome categories for which we found inconclusive
evidence. We would like to point to another area, the relationship between colla-
borative processes and outcomes, which was only addressed in few studies (Hwang
& Su, 2012; Schneider et al., 2012; Wallace et al., 2013). As collaborative processes
have a mediating impact on outcomes, researchers may well employ robust frame-
works from small-group research such as the Input-Process(Mediators)-Output model
(Mathieu et al., 2008; McGrath et al., 1993; Pinsonneault & Kraemer, 1989) which
take this relation into account and test these models with adequate statistical models,
e.g. mixed or multi-level models. In so doing, the common fate of the participants is
taken into account, as did Zagermann et al. (2016) in their recent study. Finally, we
encourage future research to use nuanced and corroborated measures of collabora-
tive processes (such as verbal and gestural communication) and make implicit
assumptions explicit. For example, the amount of communication can be both
a positive and a negative indicator, depending more on its content than on its
Human–Computer Interaction 29
The main contribution of this systematic review is its synthesis of the
fragmented field of the use of LIDs for collaboration, summarizing empirical
evidence and pointing to avenues for future research. The analysis of 41 studies
generally affirms the positive impact that LIDs can have on collaborative
processes and outcomes. However, the picture is nuanced, and the results
show that LIDs are no universal solution that improves the multifaceted aspects
of group work and outcomes in itself. With regard to collaboration processes,
the findings suggest a relatively clear advantage of the use of LIDs over classic
forms of collaboration, in particular over single-user environments, as measured
through workspace awareness, coordination flow, artifacts interaction and rea-
soning. LIDs’impact on participation patterns and communication processes
and is yet unclear. With attention to collaborative outcomes, positive effects of
LID use were identified for knowledge gains and enhanced social indicators, and
mixed effects for task-related outcomes, which is one key area for future
research. Even though most of the studies reviewed report both process and
outcome measures, they fail to investigate the mediating relationship between
these two categories, which is an important avenue for future research. Emer-
ging empirical evidence points to the effects of different design factors and the
use of LID, spanning a wide range of affordances. Although empirical studies
mostly focus on diverse technology affordances and the findings are not always
conclusive due to the limited number of studies in each category, they can offer
important guidelines for the design of LIDs for both work and learning settings.
There are indications that affordances which support the engagement of group
members (shared controls, around-the-table settings), group members’meta-
reflection (mirroring tools) as well as multi-device settings with a clear separation
of personal and groups spaces are associated with positive effects, which require
further corroboration by future research.
Supplementary material. Supplemental data for this article can be accessed here.
Funding.This research work was supported by the Swiss National Science Founda-
tion (SNSF) [Grant # 100014_152590; Research Project: Technology Affordances of
Interactive Surfaces - Effects on Collaborative Processes and Outcomes in Different
Task Types http://p3.snf.ch/Default.aspx?query=technology%20affordances%
Christoph Pimmer http://orcid.org/0000-0002-7622-6685
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