The classroom is a complex environment. In order to observe as non-invasively as possible I’ve put together some customized equipment to help capture the data I need.
Usability testing is the task-based assessment of a design direction. Here, participants execute predefined tasks requiring them to interact with various elements, features, etc. of a design direction. Performance can be assessed in a variety of ways depending on what it is you are trying to find out or measure.
Example: Student | Dynamic Geometry Tools
Moderated 1-on-1s are excellent when your experimental design requires a great deal of control and when what you are trying to measure is quantitative in nature (such as time on task). Here, each participant executes the same predefined tasks on their own. Results are then used to formulate an unbiased average.
Example: Students | Studio Collaboration
Example: Principals | Usage Reporting Dashboards
Moderated Group Usability tests should be used when:
Number two is not as self-explanatory so I’ll provide more context. I have found that when you sit 4-5 students or educators together at a table (each with their own device) and present them with loosely defined tasks to complete on their own, they naturally gravitate towards helping each other complete the tasks. The benefit being the highly qualitative conversations and interactions that occur between the participants.
Example: Teacher | Classrooms Prototype
Observations are crucial to user research. Observations allow end-user behavior to be captured as it exists naturally in real-world form. Without observations, understanding of end-user behavior would be based entirely on speculation, hearsay, self-reporting, and other biased translations. However, capturing end-user behavior naturally can be tricky.
As researchers we want to capture quality data without being too invasive or perturbing the environment in which we are observing. Ideally, we must be omnipresent flies on the wall. The traditional field notes and pencil approach to observations (researcher observes over end-user’s shoulder and scribbles notes) is burdensome as it inserts the researcher too closely into the equation and, more importantly, limits the amount of data that can be collected to what can be seen, written, and remembered from a single, biased perspective. Which is why I encourage researchers to come up with clever ways to 1. remove themselves from the equation and 2. capture higher quality data from multiple, un-biased perspectives. This is extremely important especially when what is being observed is a complex, multi-end-user environment such as a classroom.
Remember, you can only observe something once. If you capture it correctly, you can review and analyze as many times as you like.
Example: 10th Grade Geometry Classroom | Math Techbook
Example: Educator Searching for Content / Media | Search