User Studies and End of the Line Plans

  • Jul 19, 2012
  • 1 Comment

I did a lot of random stuff on Monday. I started working on the official user study script of what we are going to say at each user study.  Printed out the transfer task worlds from all of our studies at the user study, so that Kyle and I could have a meeting about “grading” the worlds, we made flow charts for the do together and count worlds that had specifics on how many points each thing a user had in their world would get them.  Also discussed the logging stuff, when we should track the times of tasks a user finishes, i.e., finishing remix, doing  a transfer task, doing  tutorial..etc.  We also went over the script I wrote and I then started editing a few things in the script and the note text in all of the worlds, so they would have more specific directions on how many lines of code they should use.  For example, for the count one a user shouldn’t need to have the same exact action more than once, or they are kind of missing the point of having the count loop.  So the note directions will reflect this. 

After I got the directions, I created “statement cards” that have the same text on them, which the users will always have in front of them, in case they forget what they are supposed to be doing at any step.  These seem to work pretty well in getting the kids to follow the directions.  They actually pay attention to these.  I had a meeting with Caitlin and Kyle about user study details, then spent the rest of the afternoon writing the logger, to keep track of when a user starts the remix, finishes it, starts the tutorial, saves a world, etc.

Tuesday was another user study.  I printed out the statement cards I made the previous day before we left.  Made some more fixes to user study stuff.  And somewhere this week I made some changes to the remix interface.  I can’t really remember when though. Tuesday I was also prompted by Kyle to think about what I would like to accomplish before the end of this summer, and to explore that in my next blog post, so here that is!

So what I’d like to get done before the summer is over is add in the “drag in some statements, play, drag in an action ordering box and place statements inside, then play again” idea, which I will form now on call aspect focusing, since that’s much shorter!

And if I finish that in time, I would also like to add in the ability to drag blocks of code.  I had originally intended this to be part of a higher level user’s experience, but now I think that it would also be very beneficial to beginning users.  I’ve noticed through the user studies that when they kids are introduced to too much information, they can’t process it all.  That’s why the gist of what I want to accomplish will highlight one aspect at a time (aspect focus), and pull focus away from other aspects the user isn’t really ready to by using the blocks. 

A user will be introduced to new concepts in a certain order, with harder concepts appearing towards the end of the list.  So for instance, one of the first things a user could be introduced to is how to play a world, insert a statement, etc.  Then maybe easy action ordering boxes like do in order, or do together. Something like a for each, however, probably wouldn’t be one of the first things a user is shown.  These are much harder for kids of grasp, so they’d pop up later, once several other user model markers were met.  However, until then, the for each could show up as a premade block of code, and maybe when the tutorial tells the user to drag it in, give them a bit of information about for each, so they’ll be familiar with it, but it won’t pull focus from the concepts they are ready to learn.  It will give them something to focus on, and have other less (at that time) important information fade into the background, hopefully leading to an actual, full understanding of the concept they were just introduced to. 

Like we’ve noticed with our little printed out notecards, pulling attention towards something is crucial in whether or not the kids notice/remember/acknowledge something.  This would essentially be doing the same thing, by pulling focus to one aspect to ensure that they will remember it.  It’s not that they have no idea what the count loop or for each are.  They remember using them once asked, but they don’t immediately jump into mind as the first plan of action.  The loops are just another step in the tutorial.  They don’t look any different, they just have some text explaining what they do…Unfortunately, kids seem to not pay too much attention to this now.  But, if we highlighted that part of the tutorial, perhaps they would recall it better.  And then when they get to the transfer task, instead of dropping in move eight times, they might instead remember that they just learned about the count loop that would make this task so much easier!  Well, in theory anyway. :)

So my user model has also changed slightly from just being more of a tracker that would influence tutorials based on what level a user is at, to a more fine-grained controller, that can check whether or not a user is ready for a certain action.  That’s the gist of what I want to accomplish in the next few weeks, and I have talked to Kyle about how to go about starting this.

Today, Thursday, was another user study, the last one before our formal test this Saturday.  I spent the afternoon fixing last minute things, and starting to get stuff ready for the test.



  • caitlin

    caitlin said:

    <p>The importance of where you steer people's attention was one of the big lessons I learned in doing the original version of stencils. In that case, it was about helping people understand what had happened, so deliberately highlighting things like changing the character selection changes the available actions and editing a method opens a new tab in the code editor. I think you're highlighting something larger than that. But serving as a guide through something means you have to optimize how you ask someone to invest their attention.</p>

    Posted on Jul 20, 2012

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