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
- To bring all of your new knowledge and skills together.
- To learn to write a research proposal.
- To carefully design an experiment or empirical study, with a
better understanding of threats to validity than you had for previous
- To further practice either between-subject testing or
- To further practice analysis.
- To gain more experience in researching related work, writing,
and group work.
In this project, you will find a usability research problem, propose
a solution to it, and evaluate that solution with a well-designed empirical
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:
- It must be actually a problem. There must be some evidence (other than
your personal feelings) that there is something in need of a redesign.
- It must relate in some way to existing research.
- It must be focused enough that a careful study can teach us something
What to do
- 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...)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Present the entire project on Friday, Nov 17.
Notes on Deliverables
- Your final paper is due at 10am on Wed. Nov 15. Your paper should be
delivered (not emailed) to Chris's office. It should include all of the sections that
we have previously discussed.
- If your team used the "book boss"
model that was described in class, be sure to rotate "book boss" duties for
- Even though a given section (like Related Work) may be originally
by a single team member, all members should be reading it and suggesting
In addition, for each section, at least two team members should sit down
a computer together and collaboratively revise. In your journal, you
- the sections that you originally wrote
- the sections that you collaboratively revised with someone else (and
the other person was).
- Each presentation should be presented by at most two (2) members of
your team. By the end of this complete project, each member of your team
should have presented at least once.
- For the intermediate presentations, each team will have 10 minutes plus
2 minutes for questions and answers. For the final presentation, each
group will have 18 minutes plus 4 minutes for questions and answers.
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
For Nov 17, you should again write a quick (1-2
page, handwritten) response to the experience. What were your
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
And don't forget to record which report sections you wrote and which
you collaboratively revised, as mentioned above.
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