Helen Wauck

hwauck at sift dot net

Ph.D., Computer Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2020

B.A. with Honors, Computer Science, Gustavus Adolphus College, 2014

B. A., Mathematics, Gustavus Adolphus College, 2014

Dr. Wauck specializes in Human-Computer Interaction and Cognitive Science research. Her more specific research interests include games and play, motivation, educational psychology, cognitive training, and visualization. She is particularly passionate about making complex systems understandable, intuitive, and fun to use for novice and non-technical users.

Dr. Wauck has published and presented research at the ACM conferences CHI, CHI PLAY, and IUI. Her dissertation research (dissertation here) focused on designing computer games to measure and train players' spatial reasoning skills, with the end goal of preparing students for STEM coursework and careers in which spatial reasoning skills are essential for success. Her dissertation work produced an open source game, Homeworld Bound, that can measure players' spatial skills and serves as a testbed for analyzing the effect of different game mechanics on spatial skill training effectiveness. All source code from her dissertation research can be found here: https://github.com/hwauck/homeworld-bound.

Demo of Homeworld Bound: A Testbed for Game-Based Spatial Skill Measurement and Training:


Play the game! (may take several seconds for the webpage to load)

Publications - Game-based Spatial Skills Training and Measurement

A Data-Driven, Player-Centric Approach to Evaluating Spatial Skill Training Games
Helen Wauck, Brian S. Woodard, Ziang Xiao, Tiffany Wenting Li, and Brian P. Bailey
In CHI PLAY 2020
A Testbed for Fun and Effective Features in Spatial Skill Training Games
Helen Wauck and Brian P. Bailey
In CHI PLAY 2019
A Player-Centric Approach to Designing Spatial Skill Training Games
Wauck H, Elisa D. Mekler, and Wai-Tat Fu
In CHI 2019
Supporting Spatial Skill Learning with Gesture-Based Embodied Design
Po-Tsung Chiu, Helen Wauck, Ziang Xiao, Yuqi Yao, and Wai-Tat Fu
In IUI 2018
Cubicle: An adaptive educational gaming platform for training spatial visualization skills
Ziang Xiao, Helen Wauck, Zeya Peng, Hanfei Ren, Lei Zhang, Shiliang Zuo, Yuqi Yao, and Wai-Tat Fu
In IUI 2018
Untangling the relationship between spatial skills, game features, and gender in a video game
Helen Wauck, Ziang Xiao, Po-Tsung Chiu, and Wai-Tat Fu.
In IUI 2017
Game Features and Individual Differences: What Makes a Spatial Skill Training Video Game Effective?
Helen Wauck
In IUI 2017 (Doctoral Consortium)
A Scalable Online Platform for Evaluating and Training Visuospatial Skills of Engineering Students
Ziang Xiao, Yuqi Yao, Chi-Hsien Yen, Sanorita Dey, Helen Wauck, James M. Leake, Brian Woodard, Angela Wolters, and Wai-Tat Fu
In 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition
Exploring the Development of Spatial Skills in a Video Game
Helen Wauck
In IUI 2016 (Doctoral Consortium)

Other Publications - Games & Design

Analyzing the effect of avatar self-similarity on men and women in a search and rescue game
Helen Wauck, Gale Lucas, Ari Shapiro, Andrew Feng, Jill Boberg, and Jonathan Gratch
In CHI 2018
A data-driven, multidimensional approach to hint design in video games.
Helen Wauck and Wai-Tat Fu
In IUI 2017
From in the class or in the wild? Peers provide better design feedback than external crowds
Helen Wauck, Yu-Chun Grace Yen, Wai-Tat Fu, Elizabeth Gerber, and Brian P. Bailey
In CHI 2017
Sorting permutations: Games, genomes, and cycles.
Adamyk K, Holmes E, Mayfield GR, Moritz D, Scheepers M, Tenner BE, Wauck HC.
In Discrete Mathematics, Algorithms and Applications (2017)