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An In-Depth Introduction to Fieldwork

Tutorial for newcomers to field research

This tutorial teaches how to plan and conduct studies of users in the field. Rather than teaching a single way to do field research, we provide the tools to think critically about the planning and methodological choices you will have to make. You will learn about Naturalistic Observation, Contextual Inquiry, Artifact Walkthrough, and Naturalistic Usability evaluations and will see video examples from actual fieldwork projects in a variety of settings and countries.

Tutorial by Susan Dray (Dray & Associates, Inc.)
Usability Fundamentals (UF)
9:00am to 5:00pm on Tuesday, June 21, 2011

About the Tutorial

Participants in this tutorial will learn: • How observational field research fits into design and how fieldwork complements other user-centered design (UCD) methods
• What it takes to make fieldwork more than just “anecdote collecting”
• Why and how to conduct four types of field research techniques:
• Naturalistic Observation
• Contextual Inquiry
• Artifact Walkthrough
• Naturalistic Usability Evaluation
• How to make sure field research provides meaningful input to design
• Tips for addressing practical and organizational obstacles to fieldwork • How to integrate all of their learning from the tutorial as they plan for field research to support the design of a website in a final, integrative exercise

This hands-on tutorial is aimed at practitioners, including developers, designers, usability specialists and managers who are responsible for user experience, usability, user needs or user requirements identification. This is an introductory to intermediate level tutorial. It will be useful for beginners, including people with lab usability experience who are beginning to venture out into the field, as well as for those with some experience in field studies of users who want to broaden and deepen their knowledge of approaches.
Because it is difficult to learn both how to do different types of fieldwork AND how to analyze the resulting data, this tutorial will focus primarily on the former. We cover analysis at a high level, but not with the same type of detail with which we focus on helping attendees understand how to conduct field studies. We are submitting a separate tutorial, “Beyond Anecdotes: Analyzing Qualitative Data from Field Studies” which covers analysis in detail.

AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION This is a highly interactive tutorial. We have incorporated numerous discussions, Q&A time, and lively exercises to engage participants and to provide them with ample opportunities to interact both with us and with other attendees. We encourage questions and discussion throughout the lecture portions of the session. We use novel stimuli (e.g., candy for an exercise on focus) that are aimed at making the session enjoyable and engaging

AGENDA 1. Introduction
1.a. Developing a useful focus and focus structure 2. Naturalistic Observation
3. Contextual Inquiry 4. Artifact Walkthroughs 5. Naturalistic or Field Usability evaluations 6. Integrative Exercise 7. Analysis and what to do next 8. Conclusions