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Summary of Lecture 6

The Use of Incident Diaries in HCI




Date page last modified 04.02.98
Who maintains the web page: Edward Niescior.
Who has editorial responsibility: Clare Mc Govern, Lucinda Bailey and Edward Niescior.
Lecture 6 (week 3).
Topics: Incident Diaries, with an email discussion, and a Review of Psychological Instruments used in HCI.

The Use of Incident Diaries in HCI

Key questions:

1) Why use an incident diary?

2) How do you define an incident?

3) Problems with Incident Diaries

4) Design Hints

A good incident diary should include:

The Key to Success

Persuading participants to fill in the diary is crucial in obtaining meaningful results.

This can be achieved through :

An e-mail discussion...

We asked the class for feedback on various issues, and were inundated with copious replies for which we are most grateful.

Is honesty an issue?

We felt that under some circumstances, honesty could be an issue, although it was not mentioned in the lectures.
We asked:
"How great an issue do you feel honesty is in completing diaries?
For example, would you be too embarrassed to reveal that you hadn't received any mail in 3 days?! "

Wendy Thomas said:
"I would not be too embarrassed, but it's a good point - people will lie about things where it's a tad embarrassing to be different from the supposed norm. Especially happens when the diary is named - for example anonymous incident diaries might be more likely to get truthful answers than personally distributed ones."

Katrin Hartmann said:
"It's a great challenge for the evaluator to make the subjects aware of the importance of being honest...a few right sentences at the beginning can do a lot."

Roisin McGrath said:
"I don't think filling in the diary honestly or dishonestly is any big deal, folk tell you what they like!"

Mel Terras said:
"no, not embarrassed......but there is the chance to lie, after all......"

Memory Clouding

How accurate did those who filled in the email diary feel their answers could be if they completed their entries from memory?

We asked:
"Did you fill the diary in after the event, and if so, do you think this affects the accuracy of your response?"

Martin Rutherford said:
"One of the instances I filled in after the event, and I found I couldn't remember how many emails I had received - so yes, it did affect the accuracy."

Katrin Hartmann said:
"I find it a good idea to put a field on the diary in which the subject can state when it was filled in so that the evaluator can work with this info."

Part two of this lecture
Back to Lecture Five
Forward to Lecture Seven
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If you would like to add to this discussion, or if you have any other comments to make regarding the material on this web page, please mail us:

Clare Mc Govern, Lucinda Bailey, Edward Niescior.