Field Research Method
A situated ethnographic research method using observation and think-aloud interviewing techniques to document and reveal for analysis the underlying contextual goals, tasks, resources, and processes involved in work and learning.
For User Study 1 we will use a contextual inquiry user research method to explore current CMU student portfolios practices by observing, listening, and asking questions in the context of the participant's work space or learning setting. The aim is to gain insights into students' portfolio creation goals, tasks and workflow processes in order to help envision, integrate or improve a portfolio system design. Each team will need to do one contextual interview per person. Decide how to divvy up the user study data collection and start recruiting participants early. Try to recruit students from a range of disciplinary backgrounds with varying levels of "portfolio expertise." Small teams of two are less intimidating, so split observation and interviewing responsibilities per protocol suggestions below.
PART ONE – CONTEXTUAL INTERVIEWS
Understanding users goals, tasks, work process and practices
Observing user gestures, actions, and interactions
Documenting tools and resource use
[ ] Field Note Sheets
[ ] Audio/ video recorder or screen capture application
[ ] Camera + batteries
Understanding users underlying motivations needs and work flows
Asking the users to think aloud about their process and practices
Expanding your understanding of the design situation from others’ perspectives
[ ] Semi-structured question list – aimed at getting users to talk about issues of interest
[ ] IRB consent and media use form
Hackos, J.T. and Redish, J.C. (1998). Chapter 10 – Conducting Site Visits: Honing your Interviewing Skills, In User and task analysis for interface design, John Wiley and Sons: New York.
PART TWO - Group Analysis & Synthesis
Soon after the interview backup, organize and review the data sources, tell stories, and capture notes.
Schedule an Affinity Diagramming session using notes and users quotes, screen shots, images, etc to find patters and themes and gain insights into the user experience.
A well-conducted contextual inquiry can yield immense amounts of data for analysis. Technique for analyzing and presenting this data can be broken down into variety methods and techniques of varying complexity and depth.
Simple methods such posting annotated photographs of user work environments, user profiles with brief narratives about users and their work and captioned artifacts, or simple lists of insights and issues can provide design teams with valuable working insights.
More complex design issues require more in-depth analysis techniques such as affinity diagramming, user-task matrices, process flowcharts, and may involve for coding discourse, task and artifact analysis. Each of these methods can inform the design process by addressing different question or concerns about the contextual nature and structure of work and learning.