University of Technology Sydney

32405 Human-Centred Design Research Methods

Warning: The information on this page is indicative. The subject outline for a particular session, location and mode of offering is the authoritative source of all information about the subject for that offering. Required texts, recommended texts and references in particular are likely to change. Students will be provided with a subject outline once they enrol in the subject.

Subject handbook information prior to 2022 is available in the Archives.

UTS: Information Technology: Computer Science
Credit points: 6 cp

Subject level:

Postgraduate

Result type: Grade and marks

There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.

Recommended studies:

it benefits students to be familiar with the basics of human–computer interaction, human-centred design and evaluation methods, and the principles and use of iterative design cycles of reflection, prototype (re)design and evaluation; familiarity with issues relating to data gathering and analysis is useful but not assumed

Description

When designing an interactive product, the designer should know who they are designing for and their needs, wishes and abilities. This is how human-centred design makes people central to the design process. There are many human-centred design methods and several of them are touched on in other interaction design subjects. In this subject we give an overview of the breadth of these methods and focus on two different methods: interviewing and cultural probes.

Interviewing is one of the most popular methods in human-centred design. The many reasons include the fact that interviewing provides direct information from interviewees, is relatively easy to do (though difficult to do well) and is inexpensive. The interviewing method is flexible in its use, exists in a large number of variations and can be used at any stage of the design process.

Cultural probes, by contrast, is a design method that requires sets of props (probes) which are specifically created or collected to be issued to participants to elicit their response. This method is open and creative, and needs more preparation, but has the potential to generate inspirational responses that can inform design.

In this subject students implement both the interviewing method and the cultural probe method, step-by-step through guidance. Students are given a brief to guide their interviewing and cultural probe implementation. Examples are shared of different types of interview and probe methods, and the student can choose to implement the ones that fit their goal best. Students have to recruit their own study participants, at least three to interview and one for the probe study.

Subject learning objectives (SLOs)

Upon successful completion of this subject students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate knowledge of human-centred design methods.
2. Demonstrate an ability to plan, design and carry out small user research projects.
3. Develop an analysis of the findings from user research suitable for use in professional projects.
4. Explain results and outcomes to others in their cohort and to broader audiences through paper writing, poster and video presentations.
5. Practice ethical and responsible conduct in user research.
6. Active participation and professional behavior.

Course intended learning outcomes (CILOs)

This subject also contributes specifically to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):

  • Socially Responsible: FEIT graduates identify, engage, and influence stakeholders, and apply expert judgment establishing and managing constraints, conflicts and uncertainties within a hazards and risk framework to define system requirements and interactivity. (B.1)
  • Design Oriented: FEIT graduates apply problem solving, design thinking and decision-making methodologies in new contexts or to novel problems, to explore, test, analyse and synthesise complex ideas, theories or concepts. (C.1)
  • Collaborative and Communicative: FEIT graduates work as an effective member or leader of diverse teams, communicating effectively and operating autonomously within cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural contexts in the workplace. (E.1)
  • Reflective: FEIT graduates critically self-review their own and others' performance with a high level of responsibility to improve and practice competently for the benefit of professional practice and society. (F.1)

Teaching and learning strategies

Learning in this subject is comprised of three elements: self-directed study, class meetings (1.5 hours per block week, thus not every week), and practical tutorials (2 hours per block week, thus not every week). First and foremost, this subject requires a significant amount of self-directed study and work outside of class hours.

Self-study will include watching videos about the subject material and reading state-of-the-art papers on human-centred design methods used in research, which will be made available through Canvas and the UTS Library. These should be studied as preparation before each class meeting.

The class meetings will be with both cohorts 32405(PG) & 41020(UG), and will include a mix of activities, such as presentations, Q&As, discussions, a quiz and an interview. The information offered during self-directed study and class meetings are necessary input for the students to be able to participate in the tutorials.

Tutorials will be with smaller groups, and are designed to support and guide the students through the necessary steps to implement human-centred design methods for the main deliverables. Students are encouraged to discuss, critique, and learn from each other. Tutors are available to stimulate such discussions and provide guidance and formative feedback.

Interactivity, as in conversation between teaching staff and students, is important in this subject. Students are highly encouraged to ask and answer questions, be active and proactive, for example by sharing things they have learned (both in class meetings as well as tutorials). The more interactive each class meeting or tutorial is, the more the students will learn (especially the ones being interactive), but also the better the teachers can tailor the subject material to the students’ needs. Therefore, it is in the students’ interest to participate in class.

Note that in the program not all weeks have class meetings and tutorials scheduled. This allows the students to pursue their tasks necessary for the assessment.

Please note that:

  • Students are expected to carry out reading for the subject before and during its delivery. It is highly recommended to read beyond the provided materials.
  • This subject is intended to give students practical experience in user research projects using methods widely used in industry and academia. Most of the actual research and the preparation of data for analysis will be done outside of class time. In class students will be guided through the set-up of these projects, they will be prepared for a practice run, which will be discussed in class, all preparing them to head off and execute the project themselves. Again, in class it will be explained how to analyse the findings, they will try one example together, to then analyse their own findings outside of class.

Students will be expected to produce work of significant depth.

Content (topics)

Throughout the session students will become familiar with the following topics:

  • Interviewing
  • Cultural probes
  • Ethics in user research
  • Recruiting and engaging with participants
  • Analysis of qualitative research data
  • Reporting and communication of research findings, both in written and visual material

Assessment

Assessment task 1: Quiz on subject

Intent:

To provide students with an awareness of human-centred research methods as taught in this subject.

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives (SLOs):

6

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):

B.1 and F.1

Type: Quiz/test
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 10%
Length:

1 hour

Criteria:

1. Demonstrated knowledge of the subject through preparation and teamwork

Assessment task 2: Poster on interviews

Intent:

To provide students with the opportunity to put into practice and further develop skills in human-centred research. This includes literature research, developing relevant questions, performing interviews, qualitative data analysis, and communication of findings.

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives (SLOs):

1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):

B.1, C.1, E.1 and F.1

Type: Report
Groupwork: Group, individually assessed
Weight: 40%
Length:

One A2-sized poster, with A4- appendices including all transcripts,all thematic analysis details, coversheets and signed informed consent forms.

Assessment task 3: Short paper and video on probes

Intent:

To provide students with the opportunity to put into practice and further develop skills in human-centred research. Following the direction set out in task 2, this task approaches similar research questions with another qualitative research tool, namely cultural probes. Students will learn its application and analysis, and communication of findings.

Objective(s):

This assessment task addresses the following subject learning objectives (SLOs):

1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6

This assessment task contributes to the development of the following Course Intended Learning Outcomes (CILOs):

B.1, C.1, E.1 and F.1

Type: Report
Groupwork: Individual
Weight: 50%
Length:

Paper: No more than 2500 words, using the provided template, with appendices.

Video: not exceeding 90 seconds.

Minimum requirements

In order to pass the subject, a student must achieve an overall mark of 50% or more.

Required texts

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101.

Golsteijn, C., Hoven, E. van den, Frohlich, D., and Sellen, A. (2012). Towards a more cherishable digital object. In Proceedings of the Designing Interactive Systems Conference (DIS '12). ACM Press, pp. 655-664.

Golsteijn and Wright. 2013. Using Narrative Research and Portraiture to Inform Design Research.

Gaver, W., Dunne, A., & Pacenti, E. (1999). Cultural probes. Interactions, 6(1), 21–29.

Gaver, W., Boucher, A., Pennington, S., & Walker, B. (2004). Cultural probes and the value of uncertainty. Interactions, 11(5).

Mattelmäki, T., Lucero, A., & Lee, J.-J. (2016). Probing – Two Perspectives to Participation. In Markopoulos, P., Martens, J.-B., Malins, J., Coninx, K., & Liapis, A. (eds). Collaboration in Creative Design (pp. 33–51). Springer.

Petrelli, D., Bowen, S., & Whittaker, S. (2013). Photo Mementos: Designing Digital Media to Represent Ourselves At Home. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 72, 320–336.

Petrelli, D., Hoven, E., van den, & Whittaker, S. (2009). Making history: intentional capture of future memories (pp. 1723–1732). Presented at the Proceedings of the 27th ACM Conference on Human-Computing Systems, ACM Press.

Chapter 7 in: Rogers, Y., Sharp, H., and Preece, J. (2015). Interaction Design: Beyond Human-Computer Interaction, 4th Edition. Wiley UK

Chapter 5 in: Urquhart, C. (2013). Grounded theory for qualitative research: A practical guide, Sage. Online available: http://find.lib.uts.edu.au/?R=OPAC_b331319

Recommended texts

Boehner, K., Vertesi, J., Sengers, P., & Dourish, P. (2007). How HCI interprets the probes. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems: CHI’07, ACM.

Braun & Clarke. (2012). Thematic analysis. APA Handbook of Research Methods in Psychology: Vol. 2. Research Designs.

Thoring, Luippold, Mueller. (n.d.). Opening the Cultural Probes Box:?A Critical Reflection and Analysis of the Cultural Probes Method.

(Scan for ideas) Mattelmäki, T. (2006). Design probes. Helsinki: University of Art and Design Helsinki.

(Scan for ideas) IDEO Human-Centred Design Toolkit. Available online: http://www.designkit.org/resources/1

Chapter 6 in: Urquhart, C. (2013). Grounded theory for qualitative research: A practical guide, Sage. Online available: http://find.lib.uts.edu.au/?R=OPAC_b3313191

References

A detailed and current subject reading list will be made available on Canvas. Published academic papers and books are available (for download or otherwise) via the UTS Library website.

Other resources

Canvas will be used for general announcements and course material. The subject coordinator will assume that every student is checking Canvas at least weekly for subject announcements. The online class meetings and tutorials will take place in MS Teams.