Navigation: This page 'hfui.html' ---> Using Dooy ---> Main Page. HELP. About this page. Contact.

Teaching With Dooyeweerd's Aspects

I teach Human Factors and User Interface and Key Issues in Information Systems Development related to information systems at Salford Business School. For many years I had used Newell's Levels as a way to separate out the various issues that need to be taught, from electronic hardware, computer bits, symbols and content. Late 2008 I took the plunge to redesign the module so that it employs Dooyeweerd's aspects instead (having gained a clear view that Newell's levels are a subset of Dooyeweerd's aspects, and a clear view of the structure of human use of computers while writing my book).

The KIISD module was presented from 2007 to 2012 to Masters students twice a year. The HFUI module was presented to 25 second-year undergraduate students in the UK, taking courses on Business Information Technology, Business Information Systems and e-Commerce. The students were culturally very diverse. In the KIISD modules, the students were almost all from distant countries, mainly Muslim, Hindu with a number of African Christians.

See comments from students, especially from those taking the KIISD modules.


In the HFUI module in 2009, the students were in the main either secular British or European students, or Muslim students; there were a couple of Christian students from Africa, and perhaps one or two others. Ten two-hour lectures were given; assessment was by individual coursework assignment and a written examination.

This page reports on the first presentation of the new HFUI module, especially from the results of the assignment, in the hope that it might be useful to others as an exemplar of how (and how not) to employ Dooyeweerd's aspects in general teaching in a field.

Use of Dooyeweerd

Dooyeweerd's aspects were introduced as fifteen spheres of meaning in everyday human life, as ways of functioning in relation to ICT in business, and as providing norms by which we can evaluate the quality of our experience with ICT. Three broad types of multi-aspectual human functioning were taught:

Each exhibits all aspects, but in different ways. The development of this way of understanding human use of computers is developed in detail in chapter IV of my book, Philosophical Frameworks for Understanding Information Systems.

The lectures were (approximately):

I introduced the aspects as ways in which our experience of ICT can be meaningful, as ways in which we engage with it when we use it, and as ways of defining what is good and bad. I presented their standard names, their kernel meanings, and the idea of each being a constellation of meaning. I intrdduced them to the notions of inter-aspect dependency and qualifying aspect, though not in detail. The kernel meanings as given by Dooyeweerd were mentioned but immediately they were reinterpreted in the context of our using ICT; for example the pistic aspect focuses on vision, the formative on structure (e.g. of web page) and achieving goals. The biotic-organic aspect was linked to both health and hardware components. The aesthetic aspect was widened beyond harmony and beauty to include style, fun, interest, humour. The ethical aspect was explained as generosity and attitude.

For the coursework assignment, the students were asked to analyse one of four small university websites (they chose which) using Dooyeweerd's aspects of HCI, ERC and HLC. They were asked to identify how the site was both good and bad in the various aspects of each, and then discuss which aspects they found most useful and why.

Findings: How the Students Coped

Somewhat to my surprise, most students coped very well. I had expected them to find around 10 aspects for HCI, 4-6 for ERC and 4-6 for HLC, but some managing to find nearly all aspects of both good and bad for all three. Almost all of them demonstrated at least a reasonable of aspects, though there were some minor confusions. Some students also exhibited a little confusion between HCI, ERC and HLC. But nobody did badly and nobody failed.

Here are some examples of what the students found as aspects of each of HCI, ERC, HLC, drawn from what they wrote:

Selected Aspects of HCI, ERC, HLC of University Library Website Found by Students
Aspect .. of HCI .. of ERC .. of HLC
Quantitative Number of links Number of books borrowed Number of visits to library
Spatial Layout of web page Location of books in library Students can access library from anywhere
Kinematic Moving mouse around page Taking books back Less need to travel
Physical Can print pages Electricity used
Biotic / Organic Eye strain Health affected e.g. by less exercise
Psychic / Sensitive Contrasting colours used for screen text, whether sound used. Nice feel to content (one student likened it to 'home sweet home'). Use of site makes students feel better about university life - or angry because they incur fines for overdue loans!
Analytical Hyperlinks clearly distinguished from text (or not). Page clearly differentiates e.g. areas of library. Student gains clarity (or confusion) in how to use library.
Formative Structure of web page. Explains what to do to achieve various ends. Using site helps students achieve goal of a better degree.
Lingual Understandable. Especially whether it is clear what graphics refer to. Search engines. 'Have your say' facility. Explanation of forms to fill in. Use of site helps students write their reports.
Social Language of page is simple, without jargon. Explains roles of various helpdesk staff; provides contact details. Some students find they spend so long on such sites that this reduces their social activity.
Economic Waste of white space. Good download time. Page shows limit on number of books borrowed. More efficient use of student time.
Aesthetic Style of user interface. Contents are interesting (or boring).
Pictures show happy people and good atmosphere in library.
Students enjoy university life more.
Juridical Facilities for disabled (visually-impaired) users. Site gives rules for use of library. Charges for overdue books.
Ethical Generous UI, e.g. extra links to make access easier. Content is generously written. Using site makes students more ready to help others.
Pistic Vision behind UI design: accessibility. Vision and mission statements of library.
Is content suited to Muslims?
Helps makes students more commitment to courses.

Notice the wide range of issues found.

Notice also that ERC column contains two different types of entry. On the basis of this I will next time differentiate between:

What did the students think of the module? Unfortunately, owing to an administrative mixup, the standard Course Evaluation Form was not distributed, so I have no positivistically-valid (statistical) data on this. I can only tell you the benefits and otherwise of what I found. Was repeated application of aspect boring to them? I have no evidence of that.

Benefits for My Teaching

I found the following benefits from using Dooyeweerd's aspects:

This page is part of a collection that discusses application of Herman Dooyeweerd's ideas, within The Dooyeweerd Pages, which explain, explore and discuss Dooyeweerd's interesting philosophy. Email questions or comments would be welcome.

Written on the Amiga and Protext.

Compiled by (c) 2009 to latest date below Andrew Basden. But you may use this material subject to conditions.

Created: 9 January 2009 Last updated: 11 February 2014 link to comments from students. also mentioned KKISD, and made section on HFUI.