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Think Aloud Proposal Receives EEF Grant


April 2006

A proposal by graduate student Sebastian De La Chica, senior Computer Science major Nathan Campbell, and Associate Professor Tamara Sumner was recently funded by the Engineering Excellence Fund. This proposal sought funds to design, implement and evaluate course materials for the think aloud method in user interface design.

The work aims to revise the contents of Task-Centered User Interface Design: A Practical Introduction, an online textbook currently used as the core instructional material in various courses in the Department of Computer Science and a landmark reference for researchers and practitioners everywhere. The think aloud method is a widely used evaluation technique that allows designers to assess the effectiveness and usability of a user interface by asking real users to verbalize their thoughts while interacting with the software product. The think aloud method course materials will support students' development of valuable user interface design evaluation skills and provide them with materials critical for the learning of the ethical aspects of conducting studies with human participants.

The proposed work will follow a team-teaching approach to curriculum design to produce a collection of teaching and learning units that can be recombined by course instructors to create different courses and by independent students to learn about the think aloud method on-demand. The team-teaching panel includes instructors from four different courses at the University of Colorado and industry practitioners. In addition to the proposal authors, the team-teaching panel will include Lynne Davis (University Corporation for Atmospheric Research), Elizabeth Jessup (Associate Professor, Computer Science), Clayton Lewis (Professor, Computer Science), Leysia Palen (Assistant Professor, Computer Science), John Rieman (Nokia), and Bruce Sanders (Director Software Engineering Projects, Computer Science). Students participating in courses ranging from introductory courses in engineering to graduate-level courses in user interface design will immediately benefit from the course materials created as part of this effort.

The goals for this curriculum design and content development effort include

  • Revising the existing instructional content on the think aloud method to include recent technological and research innovations

  • Integrating instructional content on the think aloud method with critical educational content on the ethics of conducting studies with human participants

  • Structuring the instructional content as reusable "nuggets" that can be recombined for a variety of student audiences

  • Designing the instructional content to support distance learning for informal learning situations, such as independent student design teams involved in the Senior Projects course

The project will involve three phases: (1) curriculum design workshop, (2) design and evaluation of the instructional content, and (3) curriculum design revision workshop. Work will begin during early Summer 2006 with expected completion in Spring 2007.

See also:
Department of Computer Science
College of Engineering and Applied Science
University of Colorado Boulder
Boulder, CO 80309-0430 USA
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May 5, 2012 (13:46)