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CN02: Do try this at home! A consumer’s guide CHI research for practitioners

Quick Facts

Time: Sunday, 11 April 2010, 19:00 to 22:00
Units: 2
Organizers: Kath Straub


CHI can be intimidating and frustrating for practitioners. It is filled with academics theorizing about things that seem like they should be relevant to every day practice. But, as is said, the difference between theory and practice is ofen greater in practice than it is in theory. And practitioners, who ofen hail from non-scientific backgrounds, don’t have the scientific background or rhetorical/logical skills to effectively read and assess the claims made in scientific presentations and papers. (This is especially true for brief, dense papers like those presented at CHI.) This course is specifically designed for those practitioners. Within the course we will review key parameters of critical thinking and experimental design so that practitioners can become equally effective, confidently vocal and discriminating consumers of current CHI research.


This course is intended for practitioners and students. However, any CHI participant who seeks to build or refresh their basic experimental background and scientific reasoning skills can benefit. Experienced scientists and researchers should not take this course.


This course is the amalgam of courses that have been presented in other venues: (1) “Bringing Research to Life: Studies UX Practioners should know” has been updated and presented annually at UPA and within the HFI CUA track. In both industry training examples, it receives very high (5/5 for “Would you recommend to your peers?”) evaluaions from attendees. In addition, this course draws content from the instructor’s University Introductory Psychology / Introductory Cognitive Ergonomics curriculum. These courses were also enthusiastically received, largely due to the highly interacive, pracice the concepts oriented format which clearly modeled immediate applicaions for the knowledge to the world.


Participants develop and practice evaluative and critical thinking skill in the context of evaluating experimental design. By the end of the session, participants should have developed a greater (self-)awareness of:
  • the difference between a hypothesis and a theory (and how one may get to be the other)
  • the “seams” and limits of experimental design and their impact on validity, reliability and generalizability (e.g., operationalizing, falsifiability)
  • the use and real meaning of key statistical constructs (e.g. p-value)
  • how to evaluate claims (and common mistakes researchers make in reasoning)
  • how biases and predispositions influence our evaluation of research in practice and in daily life
  • the use of language and framing to distract from the core argument
  • the complexity of generalizing from lab to life (e.g., validity, reliability)


Kath Straub has worked diligently to make current UX research accessible and meaningful for practitioners for the better part of a decade. She has developed, updated and taught “Bringing Research to Life; A practitioner’s guide to key and critical recent research in practice” for organizations such as the Usability Professional’s Association, the Federal Web Manager’s University and Human Factors International. She penned HFI’s monthly Interface Update newsle[ers. She will participate in the CHI 2010 Panel bridging research and practice. Before all that, she taught university students how to think straight about psychology. This course is effectively the intersection of those experiences. Kath is currently the Principal of Usability.ORG. (www.usability.org)