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An international peer-reviewed journal

A Methodology for Measuring Usability Evaluation Skills Using the Constructivist
Theory and the Second Life Virtual World

Debra J. Slone

Journal of Usability Studies, Volume 4, Issue 4, May 2009, pp. 178-188

Article Contents


The methodology discussed in this article applied in a distance learning context with graduate level students. Applications beyond this setting and demographic should be undertaken with caution. In particular, the interpretation, synthesis, and research required for the reports may not work as well for an undergraduate classroom. Further, the method is most appropriate where the desire is to generate deep understanding of topics or to build skills in a specific area like usability. An essential component of the distance learning experience is a home space for the discussions in a setting such as Blackboard.


In this study, students were exposed to information, ideas, and concepts that they applied to the task of evaluating Second Life. A usability checklist and final report provided structured means of completing the task. Students were then allowed to test their conceptualizations through personal reflection in diaries and by engaging with other students and the instructor via Blackboard. The results of the constructivist approach to teaching and the methodical approach to evaluating usability skills confirmed that heuristic evaluation skills can be measured and that diaries facilitate deep learning of these skills.

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