Page under construction on January 2, 2011
The projects in this class will give you experience
using a variety of methods from simple observation, to photo documentation,
interviewing, transcription, cultural models content analysis, and finally
the analysis of videotape records of collaborative activity. These are useful
tools, and you will have to put in some effort to master their use, but you
should also have fun doing these projects. They are your license to
look at your world in a new way. The later projects in the course require
you (possibly together with other students in this class) to make contact
with a community of people on campus or in the local community (see projects
2, 3, 4, and 5 below). If you are planning to take CogSci 102c Cognitive
Engineering next quarter, you should begin thinking very early in the course
about a community to work with and a small team of other students to work
with. The Professor and the TAs will be happy to talk to you about potential
The evaluation of your projects will be managed in the Calibrated Peer Review system.
Here are some general tips on how to write a paper for this
Project 1. Cognitive Diary and Everyday Task Description
January 11, 2011; Reviews Due January 16, 2011
To see some part of your own life through
1. Keep a "cognitive diary" for
an entire day. Whenever you do a task that requires thinking or remembering,
try to notice it and jot it down (or dictate to tape recorder). This will
give you some idea of the cognitive texture of everyday life, and give you
a collection of cognitive activities to choose from. You are not required
to turn in the diary itself. But DO record one.
2. Choose an everyday cognitive activity from
your diary to describe in detail. Choose carefully. Keep it small and simple. It may be part
of your job, or part of a recreational activity, or part of your everyday
routine. It should be something that you would have done even if you were
not taking this class. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DESCRIBE A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP,
OR A PRIVATE ACTIVITY, OR YOUR REASONING ABOUT IT. Do NOT attempt to design
an "experiment." DON'T WORRY ABOUT HOW REPRESENTATIVE THE ACTIVITY
3. Describe the cognitive activity as carefully
as you can. Begin by describing ONLY those things that could be captured on video.What is "cognitive" about the activity? That is, how does it accomplish a cognitive function such as planning, problem solving, decision making, understanding, control of action, etc. Some of the questions you might be able to answer include the
following: How does the activity
take advantage of or interact with structure in the environment? If the activity
is engaged in frequently, is there evidence that it has become "routine
" in the sense described by Lave and her colleagues? Look for cognitive shortcuts - ways of making a complicated computation
into a simple one. Do not attempt to describe “what is going through my mind” or “what was going on in my head.” You DO NOT know. We will investigate this problem in more depth in poject 3.
The Activity: What is the activity being described?
Description: Your careful and detailed description of the activity.
Maximum 800 words of text. Additional figures,
sketches, images and so on, e.g. structure that was used in the environment,
are not included in the page count.
Your job is to produce a document that
makes it easy for us to see that you did the reading, thought about the issues,
and did some real research. Work on making it concise. Please proofread your
Project 2. Photo Documentation of an Everyday Activity
January 23, 2011; Reviews Due January 28, 2011
Goal: To learn how to attend to the details of the everyday world.
this project you are going to take photos of an everyday activity. First,
choose an activity. It should be something that interests you and something
to which you have access. It could be something you do with your family
or with your roommates or friends. It could be an activity at your workplace,
or in someone else's workplace (see below). You should choose an activity
in which you can get close to the action. If you are unsure about your choice,
send email to the Professor or TAs. They will be happy to consult with you
on the choice of activity. You must obtain the informed consent of participants
in the activity before you take photos. The procedures for obtaining
informed consent are described on the informed consent page. While you are obtaining
that consent, also find at least one participant in the activity who will
agree to talk to you about the activity later.
ahead in the course. This could be a good time to make contact with a working
community that will provide the data for the remainder of the class projects.
you donít already have access to a camera, buy a disposable camera. If the
activity you have chosen takes place indoors or at night, be sure your camera
has a flash.
pictures of the activity. Try to capture interesting aspects of the activity
and the social and material environment in which it takes place. Shoot an
entire roll of film - at least 15 frames.
the film processed. Use a quick turn-around service, so you can get on to
the fun part of the assignment.
look at your pictures and choose 2 of them that you find most interesting.
describe what you see in the two photos. Stick close to the data and pay
attention. Look for evidence of cognitive activity. Hopefully, you will
see things in the study of your photos that you did not see while observing
the event live.
up your description.
Maximum 800 words of text.
Additional figures and tables (if they contribute to the description) are
not included in the page count. †Note: NO INFORMED CONSENT = NO GRADE.
Project 3. Cultural Models Analysis of an Interview
Part 1. Collect and Transcribe an interview (this is a two part assignment, don't forget to do part 2)
Goal: To learn how to conduct an interview, and transcribe an audio recording.
this project you will need an audio tape recorder and a blank tape.
a participant in the activity who is willing to talk to you about the activity.
up a time and a quiet place to talk to your informant.
informed consent for interview recording from your informant using the
interview consent form.
on the tape recorder and interview your informant about the activity you
took photos of. Start with the photos you used in project 3, but feel free
to use other photos as prompts in the interview. Ask your informant to explain
what is going on in the activity. You should consult our list of interviewing tips and potential interview questions
before you schedule the interview.
at least 30 minutes, but no more than one hour of interview.
through your interview and make an index of what it contains. This
should be a list of topics discussed or events in the conversation with
some indication of where they appear on the tape. Then choose one or two
passages to transcribe.
- Transcribe about 1000 words using relaxed
transcription techniques. For this, you should just try to get all of the
words that are said, including false starts and other disfluencies.
- Here is the url for a free download for a handy transcription tool. http://www.nch.com.au/scribe/. The tutorial for Express Scribe is at http://www.nch.com.au/scribe/tutorial/index.html.
up the index for your interview. Be sure to indicate on the index which
sections of the interview were transcribed.
Type up the transcription in clean form. Here is an example of an excellent Index and Transcript.
- Turn in your your signed informed consent forms in lecuture or in section on or before Feb 8..
Project 3. Cultural Models in Your Interview
Part 2. Describe and Analyse Cultural Models
February 8, 2011; Reviews Due February 15, 2011
Goal: To find and document cultural models used in the construction
of meaningful passages in your interview.
- Search: Look through your
interview transcript for evidence of cultural models. It may be necessary
to go back and listen to your whole interview again to find passages that
contain clear cultural models. Choose a passage that makes it easy for
you to find and document the cultural models involved.
- Analysis: Describe the
cultural models that are required to make sense of, or establish the meaning
of, the passage. Make sure that your description is accurate and clear.
You might consider expressing it in a diagram or some other notation. Show
how these models are used in the passage and how the passage relies on the
listener having access to these models. Describe any inferences that the
passage suggests. How is the listener expected to go beyond what is literally
present in the passage? If possible, provide other evidence (beyond
the inference or interpretation that is to be explained) in support of the
claim that these models are cultural models.
- Write it up including all
of the above. Include a link in your CPR text to a file containing the portion of the transcript that you analysed. When you make a claim about the presence of a model, you may
wish to include brief excerpts from the transcripts in the body of the text
in support of your claims.
Maximum 1000 words of text. See the CPR assignment for more instructions. You can include links to additional
figures and tables if they contribute to the description.
A checklist to help you ensure you did everything correctly.
Transcription of Activity in Video from Your Setting
February 22, 2011; Reviews Due February 27, 2011
video consent form
Goal: The goals of this project are to document how real people on campus or
in the local area engage in some meaningful activity.†You should have already made contact with the
people in an interesting activity setting for projects 3 through 5. If those contacts are still working, collect
your video there.†If, for some reason
you cannot, or choose not to, collect video in that setting, you should quickly
find another setting where you can collect video data. The
work done on this project may be the basis for design projects that will be
performed in Cognitive Science 102c (Cognitive Engineering) in the spring
that you cannot collect any video data until you have obtained informed
- Make observations: You
may already have observed, photographed, and interviewed some members of
the community. In this project you should conduct a more systematic study
of the ways that people make meaning in everyday activity. Talk to the people
and observe them in the activity. Take notes on their activities,
describe their tasks, and videotape a person or, preferably, persons
interacting with their environment or with one another. Collect at least
15 minutes of video.
- Create an index and select clips for analysis: Using the method introduced
in project 4, create an index for your video.† Select clips totaling at least 30 seconds
duration for analysis.
- Transcribe clips: Make
a detailed transcription of the activity in your selected clips. †Use
the assigned readings and the examples provided in lecture by Professor Hutchins for
models of ways to transcribe non-verbal aspects of on-going activity. Here is a sample transcript.
- Note: NO INFORMED CONSENT = NO GRADE.
5. Analysis of Activity in Video
March 8, 2011; Reviews Due March 14, 2011
- Analysis: Analyze the recorded
activity using the concepts presented in the lectures and readings.
- Write up the analysis.
Be sure your analysis makes use of the concepts in the readings.†
- Please also turn in a
copy of your index and transcription.† It
is expected that you will have made changes to these during the course of
your analysis.† †Even if you
did not make changes to the index and transcription since turning in project 6, turn them in again
attached as appendices to your analysis paper.†
Maximum 1000 words of text for your analysis. Attach the
index, transcript, and any additional figures and tables.