On this page

CN14: Empirical Research Methods for Human-Computer Interaction

Quick Facts

Time: Wednesday, 14 April 2010, 9:00 to 13:00
Units: 2
Organizers: I. Scott MacKenzie


Participants in this course will benefit by learning how to conduct empirical research in human-computer interaction. As most attendees at CHI conferences will agree, a "user study" is the hallmark of good research in human-computer interaction. But, what constitutes a user study? By and large, a user study is an experiment conforming to the norms for empirical inquiry and the scientific method. It is founded on observation, measurement, and posing and answering testable research questions. This course delivers an A-to-Z tutorial on conducting an empirical experiment (aka user study) in humancomputer interaction.


This course is intended for members of the CHI community who are interested in learning about, or refining their skill in, empirical research methods in human-computer interaction (HCI). Prior knowledge of statistical tests is not required.


This course was offered at CHI 2007 in San Jose, CA, at CHI 2008 in Florence, Italy, and a CHI 2009 in Boston. As well, variations on this course have been delivered as part of a visiting professor lecture series on empirical research methods given at the University of Tampere (Tampere, Finland) and at the University of Central Lancashire (Preston, UK).


A key feature of this course is participation in a real experiment (lasting about 30 minutes). Working in pairs and using a hand-out prepared by the presenter, attendees take turns acting both as participant (i.e., perform tasks while data are collected) and investigator (i.e., instruct the participant, administer the tasks, collect and record data). The experiment will have all the components of a "real experiment". There will be independent variables, dependent variables, counterbalancing, and so on.


Scott MacKenzie's research is in human-computer interaction with an emphasis on human performance measurement and modeling, experimental methods and evaluation, interaction devices and techniques, alphanumeric entry, language modeling, and mobile computing. He has more than 100 publications in the field of Human-Computer Interaction (including more than 30 from the ACM's annual SIGCHI conference) and has given numerous invited talks over the past 20 years. Since 1999, he has been Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at York University, Canada. See http://www.yorku.ca/mack/CHI2010 for further details