First project milestone: Empathize

The goal of this milestone is to employ different data collection techniques (observation, interview, questionnaire) to gather data around your chosen topic, identify focal points of your project, and generate a set of findings and design implications derived from the qualitative data you collected from your target population.

1. First interim-milestone: unstructured observation in public place

To begin, each team member will individually come up with 2 preliminary focal points and conduct an unstructured observation related to the project topic. The observation should be done in a public place, as that simplifies the ethics requirements at this stage. Students will collect observation data in the field using data collection techniques such as note taking. The written notes must be transcribed and other collected data needs to be documented. Each student should then write up a brief findings report where they interpret and summarize their collected data in two to three paragraphs, by answering questions such as: What was surprising? What was interesting? How did the people being observed carry out their activities? How did people interact with their environment, objects, other people? Make sure to begin your report by using the first paragraph to briefly describe how/where you collected the data and the type of data, how frequently, how much, and from who.

Next, each student will share their 2 focal points + individual transcripts + findings report with their team members through the Piazza group. Each team member needs to review the focal points + findings reports from their teammates and comment on them in Piazza. Finally, the team needs to submit a single ‘team report’ as a group that summarizes the most interesting and important findings.

For your team report, include 1) one sentence to remind the reader of the topic; 2) the full set of preliminary focal points (even though some will be overlapping); 3) description of context/environment where observations took place; 4) description of how data was recorded; 4) a description of of how data was analysed, and 5) findings. The finalized team report needs to be submitted on Piazza by the due date on the Schedule page with a title/summary of “First interim-milestone”. Please give your pdf files name “First interim-milestone<team name>.pdf”

2. Focal Points, Interviews and Questionnaires

By now, your team has already conducted observations. (You are free to conduct more observations, but you likely do not have time.) At this point, your team needs to come up with a synthesized set of 3-5 really good focal points (from the full set of preliminary focal points). You will use these to scope the balance of your research.  The questionnaire and the interview questions should be refined as a team only after the focal points are set.

Reality check: Ideally your group’s focal points would have been done before conducting any observations, but the timing was tight.  Further, you would ideally share your focal points with another team and get feedback on the scope of your planned study before starting it.

The number of respondents for your questionnaire and the number of people you interview will depend on your target population and project. Aim for at least 10 respondents and to conduct at least 3-4 interviews. Essentially, each student should take the lead interviewing at least one person. You should likely be able to do more, but it will depend on the ease of finding participants from your target population and the length of the interview. The gold standard is to interview people in context.  Remember to use appropriate data collection techniques such as audio recording. Any written notes and audio should be transcribed, and any other collected data (such as images) needs to be documented.Reality check: Normally you would interview as many people as necessary until the data starts to saturate, i.e., you are not learning new things for additional interviewees.

Each student should individually review all the data and come prepared to a team meeting to discuss the full set of data. Use affinity diagramming to synthesize the data into findings/themes. Once those are established, your team can then brainstorm key takeaways for how a design solution would need to accommodate the human activity. We typically call these ‘implications for design’.

Presentation and report:

Your team will report its findings in two ways: (1) with an in class presentation (see schedule for date), and (2) a separate report.

For the class presentation, your team will have 5 minutes to present your work and there will be an additional 5 minutes for feedback from the instructors and your classmates. At least 2 team members must present. (Team members will be expected to rotate across the project milestone presentations that are required throughout the term.) Your presentation should include a title slide (with project topic, team name, and student names), focal points, research methods in brief (including a description of you participants, methods, data collection, analysis approach), key findings, and implications for design. You can create slides in whatever software you want, but ensure that they can be pdf’d. These presentations will be strictly timed, so as to allow time for all teams during the class. Bring your presentation on a USB stick.

The report is an extended version of the information that you presented in class. The main body of your report should be 3-5 pages. It should include separate sections for all the information mentioned above, many which will need to be expanded. Include things such as methodology details and additional data that did not fit into your presentation; for example, a table describing your interview respondents in detail, or more detailed analysis of the questionnaire data (e.g., charts), and quotes from participants that help to illustrate a finding. Make sure that the findings reported are well supported by the data, i.e., it is easy for a reader to see the link between the data analysis and the findings. Additionally, your report needs to include a section that identifies each team member’s contributions: e.g. contacted participants, interviewed participants, analysed or transcribed dada, etc. This can be in a bulleted list for each student. Include appendices (no page limit) with your blank questionnaire, interview script, observation data, all your raw data (e.g., transcripts), an image of your affinity diagram, and signed consent forms, and any data analysis that doesn’t fit into the main body of your report.

Similar to the first interim-milestone, students need to submit both a pdf of the presentation and a pdf of their report to Piazza. Please give your pdf files name “Empathize-report-<team name>.pdf”and “Empathize-presentation-<team name>.pdf”



Interim milestone-5 points

Focal points (3-5, appropriate in scope and for the project direction) – 4 points

Brief overview of study protocol/methodology – detail sufficient for another group to be able to replicate reasonably what was done – 2 points

Description of participants and study location (may be in findings or protocol) – 2 points

Findings (analysis based on correct number of participants; should be appropriate for focal points, addresses focal points, clear and well organized, thoughtful, grounded in the data, can include salient images/figures/diagrams etc.)- 5 points

Takeaways (implications for design that are appropriate based on findings and methodology used) – 3 points

Team members contributions (done and with sufficient detail)- 1 points

Appendix – questionnaire, interview questions & any other study instruments – 10 points

Appendix – affinity diagram- 2 points

Appendix – typed transcripts identifying interviewer/notetaker- 4 points

Appendix – consent forms (signed off and done correctly)- 2 points

Total 40 points


2- Presentation:

Title slide (project topic, team name, student names)-1 points

Contained the right content at the right level of detail (focal points, methods, key findings, key takeaways)-5 points

Clear, easy to read/absorb slides-1 points

Well timed-1 points

Clearly delivered-2 points

Total-10 points