Qualitative Research Methods

for Information Systems and Management, fall 2014

Shoot the Focus Group

An old article from Business Week about the disenchantment with focus groups as a method in marketing research: http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2005-11-13/shoot-the-focus-group

A supplemental reading to today’s lecture on projective interviewing

A three page piece on hierarchical_mapping of social support networks.

Assignment 2 posted

Available here.

cognitive pre-testing of census survey

I mentioned this in class on Thursday (Oct 21), the US census carried out a supplemental survey on Internet use in 2011. You can read about the cognitive pre-testing they did (using a “think-aloud procedure with verbal probing”) here. This process is much like the qualitative interviewing techniques you are learning in class, but in this context it is to check the comprehensibility of survey questions toward the end goal of designing questions that can be comprehended accurately without further discussion or probing.

Turning in assignment 1

Assignment 1 is due by the beginning of class tomorrow (10/16, 12:30pm). You can e-mail me your assignment (1-page analysis + field notes). Alternately, you can bring a paper copy to turn in in class.

Algorithms, Monkeys, and Fears of Automation

Following from our conversation today about design ethnography:

The Xerox ad – a monkey demonstrating how easy it is to use their photocopier (thanks to Bina Patel for finding this).

National Nurses United radio ad – “we have something better than nurses, we have algorithms!…We spent millions on algorithms, software, computers!”

A couple of examples of design ethnography

Frog Design, “In the Hands of God: A Study of Risk & Savings in Afghanistan,” thanks to Andrew Lambert for drawing my attention to this project. The write up has a lengthy section reflecting on methods and the researchers subject-presence.

From my previous career in the tech industry, “Vineyard Computing: Sensor Networks in Agricultural Production

How Grounded is Hutchins ‘Distributed Cognition?’

In light of our discussion today, I wanted to direct you to the Introduction to Hutchins book ‘Cognition in the Wild’ (intro available here). Notably, he says,

Three and a half years later, the project that became this book began in earnest. In the summer of 1984, I was still working for the Navy Personnel Research and Development Center in San Diego as a civilian scientist with the title Personnel Research Psychologist. By then I had participated in two successful and well-known projects. With these successes came the freedom to conduct an independent research project. I was given carte blanche to study whatever I thought was of most interest. I chose to study what I was then calling naturally situated cognition. Having a research position in a Navy laboratory made it possible for me to gain access to naval vessels, and my longtime love of navigation and experience as a racing yacht navigator made it easy for me to choose navigation as an activity to study afloat. I talked my way aboard a ship and set up shop on the navigation bridge. At the time, I really had no notion what an ideal subject navigation would turn out to be. When I began, I was thinking in terms of the naturally situated cognition of individuals. It was only after I completed my first study period at sea that I realized the importance of the fact that cognition was socially distributed.

I also mentioned in class today an account of the crash of Air France 447, which you can read here.

Schedule Change

I have rescheduled our guest speaker Stuart Geiger from this upcoming Thursday (10/9) to the end of the month (10/30). I have also made a few changes to the syllabus schedule as result. This Thursday we will move on to our session on “After Analysis: Writing Up Based on Participant-Observation Work.” The following Tuesday I will talk about “Design Ethnography” (originally scheduled for later in the semester). See the syllabus for the assigned readings for these sessions.

Note cards for Analysis Exercise

Please bring 20 large format (3″ x 5″) note cards with your selected field note ‘incidents’ taped onto them to class on Thursday October 2nd. Please bring some blank note cards as well. We will begin our collaborative fieldwork analysis exercise which will continue to the following Tuesday.

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