Saturday, September 12, 2009

Analytical Toolsets

Here is the set of tools for analysis of research data that John Payne presented at EPIC 2009. He ran a workshop in which we discussed and refined this process. I was especially interested, as I had come to the same conclusion as John—that there are few who have assembled an organized and comprehensive way to analyze research results. I had begun to assemble a kit of tools of my own:

In my previous post I showed the "Tool Picker" for helping design students decide which research methods to use. The right-hand edge of that diagram containing the list of methods is shown, above. The question: after you use the proscribed set of methods in the field, how do you make sense of what you've found?

I have been putting together a set of tools gathered from my own experience and the experience of others (such as the good folks at the Institute of Design at IIT, Dori Tunstall, Lloyd Walker, Andy Ogden, among others). This is the "Insights : Opportunities" deck we've been using in my Design Investigations course. The intent is that, with the use of a variety of "lenses" through which to look at the data, the conclusions will be more robust. I've been very pleased with the results. Where before, students finished their research presentations with a single slide containing three or four bullet-point conclusions, they are now concluding with ten or twelve slides, each pointing out a viable design opportunity that derives from an insight from the research.

When I saw John's Analysis / Synthesis Palette at EPIC, I was fascinated. He is coming at the same problem from a completely different direction. I am using the metaphor of a group of individuals looking at the research data, each with a different point of view. John is looking at the process itself, and creating, in a wonderfully methodical way, different ways to arrange, sift, compile, deconstruct, and recombine the data, winding up with prescribed directions.

I will be looking over my notes for some time, to decide how I will change what I'm doing based on his approach.

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