Research Methods in Human-Computer Interaction

10532325_10152588867458874_8014341563929926376_oResearch Methods in Human-Computer Interaction is a summer school course that took place in Tallinn University, Estonia from the 25th to the 31st of July 2014. The course was primarily designed to assist PhD students and practitioners to better understand the major research methods in the area of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and allow them to combine and use these methods in order to tackle their research objectives.

The course composed of a very diverse and extensive program covering a variety of research methods in HCI. It started with a presentation on Experimental Design by Dr. Duncan Brumby from UCL, which focused on designing, executing and analysing usability experiments as well as an interesting discussion of the current themes within the HCI community. Next, Jettie Hoonhout from Philips Research presented the art of designing effective questionnaires and discussed the ethical aspects of conducting studies with humans. On the other hand, Dr. Effie Law from University of Leicester focused on the User Experience and various methods for measuring it. Next, Prof. Geraldine Fitzpatrick gave an introduction on Ethnographic Methods, while Prof. Katrin Niglas  presented the very broad topic of Mixed Methods. Finally, Dr. Sian Lindley from Microsoft Research gave an introduction to Narrative-Based Methods and how can be used to elicit stories from participants.

Along with the extremely interesting lectures, there were also a couple of research and design challenges that students divided into groups of 4-5 persons had to tackle by exploring and using the taught research methods. As part of the first group, which composed of Imtiaj Ahmed, Christiane Grünloh, Joanna Kwiatkowska, Fábio Freitas and myself, we had to tackle a challenge regarding domestic life and space in regards to technology.

10446125_10152586500248874_2964546812461636479_oInspired by the design challenge “Space, Place, Threshold – Considering the Experience of Home from Within and Without”, we explored the issue of the distribution of domestic work, in particular in families with children. We are interested in social aspects of tasks’ distribution, mainly how the perception of household tasks can be changed. We emphasise the collaborative value of such activities by proposing a technology that can support balancing work distribution and encourage communication in this regard. We described the motivation and the underlying problem of allocating domestic work in families and outline the research design for tackling this challenge in our final paper that you can dowload here.

Now that the course is over, it is time to assimilate the taught concepts, better explore the area and most importantly try to build on the connections that were created during our stay in the beautiful Tallinn.

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