The aim of this assignment is for you to practice data gathering. Assume that you have been employed to improve an interactive product such as a cell phone, an iPod, a DVD recorder, a photocopying machine, computer software, or some other type of technology that interests you. You may either redesign this product, or create a completely new product. To do the assignment you will need to find a group of people or a single individual prepared to be your user group. These could be your family, your friends, or people in your class or local community group.

For this assignment you should:

(a) Clarify the basic goal of improving the product by considering what this means in your circumstances.

(b) Watch the group (or person) casually to get an understanding of issues that might create challenges for you doing this assignment and information that might enable you to refine your goals.

(c) Explain how you would use each of the three data gathering techniques: interview, questionnaire, and observation in your data gathering program. Explain how your plan takes account of triangulation.

(d) Consider your relationship with your user group and decide if an informed consent form is required (Box 13.2 will help you to design your own if needed).

(e) Plan your data gathering program in detail:

• Decide what kind of interview you want to run, and design a set of interview questions for your study. Decide how you will record data, then acquire and test any equipment needed and run a pilot study.

• Decide whether you want to include a questionnaire in your data gathering program, and design appropriate questions for it. Run a pilot study to check your questionnaire.

• Decide whether you want to use direct or indirect observation and where on the outsider–insider spectrum of observers you wish to be. Decide how you will record data, then acquire and test any equipment needed and run a pilot study.

(f) Carry out your study but limit its scope. For example, only interview two or three people or plan only two half-hour observation periods.

(g) Reflect on your experience and suggest what you would do differently next time.

Keep the data you have gathered as this will form the basis of the assignment in Chapter 8.


The aim of this assignment is for you to practice data analysis and presentation. Assume that you are to present the findings of your data gathering assignment from Chapter 7 to a group of peers, e.g. through a seminar.

(a) Review the data you have gathered and identify any qualitative data and any quantitative data in your data set.

(b) Is there any qualitative data that could sensibly and helpfully be translated into quantitative measures? If so, do the translation and add this data to your quantitative set.

(c) Consider your quantitative data.

• Decide how best to enter your quantitative data into your spreadsheet software. For example, you need to consider how to handle answers to closed questions. Then enter the data and generate some graphical representations. As you are likely to have very few records, i.e. respondents or interviewees, in your data set, you will have to think carefully about what if any graphical representations will provide meaningful summaries of your findings.

•Is there any data for which simple measures such as percentages or averages will be helpful? If so, calculate the three different types of average.

(d) Consider your qualitative data.

• Based on your refinement of the study question ‘improving the product,’ identify some themes from your qualitative data, e.g. what features of the product cause people difficulties, did any of your participants suggest alternative designs or solutions? Refine your themes and collate extracts of data which support the theme.

• Identify any critical incidents in your data. This may arise from interview or questionnaire responses, or from observation. Describe these incidents carefully and choose one or two to analyze in more depth, focusing on the context in which they occurred.

(e) Collate your findings as a presentation and deliver them to a group of your peers.

(f) Review your presentation and any questions you received from your peers and consider where your analysis and presentation could be improved.

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