Assignment I: Thoughtless ActsThe goal of this first assignment is get you thinking about and observing the many interfaces around you. You should observe how people adapt those interfaces, their behavior, or both to perform various activities. We will cover Jane Fulton Suri's Thoughtless Acts book in class. In a short essay (1-2 pages), you should do the following:
- Present one thoughtless act that you observed, include at least one image to illustrate the thoughtless act
- State which category this thoughtless act belongs to and why
- Identify what the person or people are trying to accomplish (i.e., their goal)
- Describe how they have changed the interface, their behavior, or both to accomplish this goal
A hard copy of Assignment I is due on 10/11 at the beginning of class.
Assignment II: Interface CritiqueFor this assignment you will take a critical look at another interface. The interface can be for a PC application, a web-based application, or an interactive device. You may also select a non-computer interface (e.g., a light switch, controls for an appliance, etc). Often selecting a non-computer interface makes for an interesting analysis, and in the past students have selected interfaces such as backpacks, shoe laces, and pockets. One challenge is selecting an interface of appropriate size. If you want to examine a large or complex interface (e.g., a video game system), it would be best to focus on one aspect of this interface (e.g., just the control device). In a short paper (approximately 4-5 pages), describe the following:
- Which interface you selected
- Who the users are
- What the user is trying to accomplish (their tasks and goals)
- An analysis of whether the interface meets or fails to meet various usability factors, including: fit to users' tasks, feedback, learnability, visibility of system status, match between system and the real world, user control and freedom, consistency with other interfaces and standards, error prevention, exploiting recognition over recall, flexibility and efficiency of use, aesthetic design, helping users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors, help and documentation, or other factors
You may work with a partner on this assignment and submit a single paper together.
A hard copy of Assignment II is due on 11/8 at the beginning of class.
Assignment III: Contextual InterviewsThe essence of contextual design is (1) to go where the user works, (2) observe the user as he or she works, and (3) talk to the user about the work. The process of contextual design starts with interviews with users in their workplace while they work. For this project you will form teams of 4-6 students and interview people (6-8 people) while they are using an interface (it doesn't necessarily need to be a computer-based interface). Your team should jointly write a short paper (4-5 pages) describing what you learned about the interface from your interviews. You should mention both the positive and negative aspects of the interface as well as ideas you have for design improvements. The paper should include the following:
- Describe the interface and context of use
- Briefly describe how you conducted the interview
- Report the significant data from your interview (both positive and negative aspects of the interface) and the conclusions the data supports. Be especially careful to use your data to ground your conclusions
- Describe any design changes motivated by your data
- You must attach all of the informed consent forms (see below) for the interviews you do
A hard copy of Assignment III is due on 12/2 by 8am in my Cognitive Science mailbox.
Informed ConsentOverview: All investigations involving human subjects at UCSD are governed by a set of regulations. These regulations have been put in place to protect the rights of people who participate as subjects in research projects. If a research process will put a subject at risk, the subject must be informed of the risks and must consent to participate prior to the conduct of the research. The research projects in this class will be conducted under the terms of an application that Professors Hollan and Hutchins submitted to the governing committees. You must comply with these terms. Before you collect data from anyone, you must obtain their informed consent. That is, you must tell them what you want them to do, what information you are going to collect, and what you will do with the information you collect.
The basics: Before you collect data from anyone, you must obtain their informed consent. That is, you must tell them what you want them to do, what information your are going to collect, and what you will do with the information you collect. You must retain a copy of the consent given by all participating subjects. You must keep a record of the total number of subjects you work with. The consent forms must be attached to your paper when you turn it in.
Risk management: The principal potential risks of the projects for this class are that a subject might say something in the course of an interview that, if later revealed by the student doing the interview, could cause the subject embarrassment or some undesired social consequence. You will not interview subjects about their personal lives or other topics that may be socially sensitive. You will not collect any sort of data on any illegal or dangerous activity. You will do whatever you can to protect the interests of the subjects. If complications arise in your relationship to a subject or subjects, report the problem to your professor immediately. The instructors together with the student and the subject will work together to resolve any difficulties.
Methods for obtaining informed consent:
For photographic studies, informed consent will be obtained by the student using the Photo Consent form before taking any photos.
For audio recording, informed consent will be obtained by the student at the beginning of the interview using the Audio Consent form.
For observational studies, informed consent will be obtained by the student using the Observation Consent form before beginning observations.
For video studies, informed consent will be obtained by the student using the UCSD Video Recording Release Consent form, before making any observations.