Using shared representations to improve coordination and intent inference

Joshua Introne, Richard Alterman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


In groupware, users must communicate about their intentions and aintain common knowledge via communication channels that are explicitly designed into the system. Depending upon the task, generic communication tools like chat or a shared whiteboard may not be sufficient to support effective coordination. We have previously reported on a methodology that helps the designer develop task specific communication tools, called coordinating representations, for groupware systems. Coordinating representations lend structure and persistence to coordinating information. We have shown that coordinating representations are readily adopted by a user population, reduce coordination errors, and improve performance in a domain task. As we show in this article, coordinating representations present a unique opportunity to acquire user information in collaborative, user-adapted systems. Because coordinating representations support the exchange of coordinating information, they offer a window onto task and coordination-specific knowledge that is shared by users. Because they add structure to communication, the information that passes through them can be easily exploited by adaptive technology. This approach provides a simple technique for acquiring user knowledge in collaborative, user-adapted systems. We document our application of this approach to an existing groupware system. Several empirical results are provided. First, we show how information that is made available by a coordinating representation can be used to infer user intentions. We also show how this information can be used to mine free text chat for intent information, and show that this information further enhances intent inference. Empirical data shows that an automatic plan generation component, which is driven by information from a coordinating representation, reduces coordination errors and cognitive effort for its users. Finally, our methodology is summarized, and we present a framework for comparing our approach to other strategies for user knowledge acquisition in adaptive systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-280
Number of pages32
JournalUser Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptive user interfaces
  • Coordinating representations
  • Groupware
  • Knowledge acquisition
  • Plan recognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications


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