SRS 200

Assignment 4 -- A Complete Research Experience

Proposal (with Presentation) due Friday, Oct 20, 2006
Design (with Presentation) due Friday, Oct 27, 2006
Experiment Design (with Presentation) due Friday, Nov 3, 2006
Final Paper due Wednesday, Nov 15, 2006 at 10am
Final Presentations: Friday, Nov 17, 2006, 8:30-10:30


Your Mission

In this project, you will find a usability research problem, propose a solution to it, and evaluate that solution with a well-designed empirical study.

In the first project, the research problem was finding a better design for stoves in general. In the second project, the research problem was to find a better design for a specific aspect of the stove. While there was definitely room for creativity, the general "shape" of the research problems was given to you. For this project, you must choose your own research problem. It can relate to any product you care to design (or it can be independent of any existing product). However, it should be a genuine research problem:

What to do

  1. Choose a research problem. This will involve brainstorming with your group, library research to find related work, and doing other things to develop evidence that the problem is a real research problem (such as interviewing representative users, doing a quick "pilot study", etc...)

  2. During the week of Mon, Oct 9 through Friday, Oct 13, meet as a group with Chris and Aaron to discuss your research problem. A sign-up sheet is on Chris's office door.

  3. For Friday, Oct 20, write a proposal describing your research problem, arguing that it is interesting, arguing (with evidence) that it is indeed a problem, and placing the proposed project in relation to existing research. Give a presentation on the proposal.

  4. For Friday, Oct 27, design a solution to the research problem, as proposed in your proposal. Describe the solution in a write-up, which will be something like an Approach section of a research paper, and give a presentation on the solution.

  5. For Friday, Nov 3, design an experiment or empirical study to carefully evaluate the proposed solution. This will involve deciding what to compare the solution with, what measurements to take, and how to measure them. You should also be sure to argue that, if everything goes as expected, the results will provide good data for analysis. Describe your experiment design in a write-up (like part of an Evaluation section of a research paper) and give a presentation.

  6. For Wednesday, Nov 15, carry out your experiment or empirical study, record the results, and analyze them. Write a complete research paper, using the parts you have produced so far and adding to them to tell your complete story.

  7. Present the entire project on Friday, Nov 17.

Notes on Deliverables


Each team member should continue journaling as you did for Assignments 2 and 3. Explored and unexplored design choices, interesting methods to try, results that struck you as unusual, and failed attempts are all fair game.

For Nov 17, you should again write a quick (1-2 page, handwritten) response to the experience. What were your expectations and actual outcomes? How did it compare to other groups? What are your reflections on the experiment design approaches that you used? Feel free to again comment on team dynamics too. And don't forget to record which report sections you wrote and which you collaboratively revised, as mentioned above.


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