I am fully behind the theory of active learning, but I struggle with putting it in practice. It takes a lot of creativity to engineer situations that stimulate active learning, and I am not entirely trained – I don’t know the toolbox. But I try.
I’m pretty proud of what we did in my HCI graduate course tonight, and I don’t want to forget it, so here we go:
Discussion on GUI history ended with question about where future interface paradigms are headed. We experimented with tangible computing. I gave each group some items (toys, boxes, trinkets) to use as starting points for designing a communication system that uses those items for interaction.
The students had read 4 articles on various types and aspects of HCI design (UCD, participatory/value sensitive, critical, and a comparison article). We started by ranking the reading is terms of: ease of understanding and favorites. This gave me a feel for what reading(s) were harder to understand. I asked question to tease out the essence of each article and then each team got post-its of 2 different colors. On one color they had to list activities the authors undertook as part of the design process, and on the other, concepts that were new to them. One item per post-it.
I then asked 2 groups to combine their activities on one board and their concepts on another, and then organize them into categories and name each category. We heard brief presentations of the categories on each board, and I interjected points meant to link everything together.
Ended class with some questions meant to integrate the material and 2 minutes of reflection for students to note down their take-aways.
This post explains an alternative research protocol, website experience analysis (WEA).
Website experience analysis is a research protocol (set of procedures) that can help researchers identify what specific interface elements users associate with particular interpretations.
WEA focuses on the messages that users take-away from their experience with the interface.
All interfaces try to communicate something, such as:
- you should trust this application with your credit card data
- you should come study for a MS degree in CGT at Purdue
WEA allows you to find out:
- whether the interface actually communicates this message – do people actually take away the message that you intended, and to what extent?
- what specific elements of the interface users associate with those particular messages (trust, CGT is a good program, etc.)
The WEA questionnaire is based on prominence-interpretation theory. It works with pairs of items that ask:
- Ratings of user perceptions (e.g. trust – on a scale of 1-10)
- Open-ended: what about the interface makes the user feel this way?
WEA is based on a much more complex theoretical framework of the website experience. The framework breaks the website experience down into two major dimensions: time and space. WEA then explains the phases of the experience as they unfold across time, and the elements of the website space (elements are categorized according to element functions). The theoretical framework is likely only valid for websites, because the experience with another type of interface, even though it may have the same three main temporal phases (first impression, engagement, exit) will likely differ in terms of the steps within those phases and the nature of the spatial elements and their functions.
WEA is different from a regular questionnaire because it connects perceptions with specific interface elements. Questionnaires will tell you whether the user trusts the product, but they won’t provide specific feedback as to what particular elements may account for that perception.
WEA is modular, which means that a different battery of items can be used, depending on the focus of the research. I used WEA in 2 contexts:
- To evaluate the experience of visiting organizational websites. Here, I used the 5 dimensions of good relationships between organizations and their publics: trust, commitment, investment, dialog, etc.
- To evaluate whether emergency preparedness websites persuade users to take emergency preparedness actions. Here I used a battery of items derived from a theory of fear appeals (EPPM) and assessed whether users perceived there is a threat, believe they can do something about it, believe the recommended actions would be effective, etc.
I think WEA would provide excellent feedback about how prospective students perceive the CGT department, based on their experience with the website. It would be very valuable to find out exactly what about the website makes them feel that:
- they would benefit from a CGT MS
- they would fit in
- they would have a good educational experience
- etc. – we have to determine the relevant set of items. Ideally, we would have a theory to guide item development.
WEA can be used with other research questions, such as: How do HR managers look at job candidates’ online information? (hello, Jack!)
WEA can be improved upon to better tap into emotional aspects of the user experience. It can be modified to be a more inductive approach, that elicits emotions and interpretations from users rather than asking about specific interpretations (such as trust, etc.) – thank you, Emma, for these suggestions!
If you would like to read more about WEA, you can find the relevant citations in Google Scholar. I can provide copies of the papers if you don’t have access to them.
A Purdue ENE student posted this video on Facebook, and after watching, I had to curate it here. The idea is so simple, and so brilliant – after seeing the video, all I can say is “duh! – it makes perfect sense!”
Here’s the brief summary:
- we have the technology to interface with computers using movement – aka Natural User Interfaces (NUI) – like Xbox Kinect.
- movement of the body is related to emotion – something yogis have known for a long time, and modern research is confirming. For example, an open, expansive, body posture will make you feel happy and powerful (see, for example, this research study). Also, body posture and movement have social implications – for example, moving in sync creates liking & trust.
- Therefore, we should create interfaces that invite open, expansive, fluid body movements, in order to increase positive affect (put people in a good mood).
- Possible applications: Gmail TaiChi – Using TaiChi movements to sort through your Inbox in the morning; OR: A serious game for learning math that requires open, expansive movement is likely to reduce math anxiety.
- DUH! Brilliant!
Watch Katherine Isbister‘s Google Talk to grasp the details of this argument, and to see applications and interesting research projects: