Saturday, January 31, 2009


Difference between validity and reliability? Both are social and impact each other but do NOT determine one another

Reliability is involved with the issue of whether the results are replicable or not (is it consistent) and whether the parts (if there are sub-parts to a measurement) add up to the same results as the whole -> This last part looks into the consistency of the sub-parts relation with the overall measurement.

Validity: has to do with the truth of the measurement. Does the measurement accurately account for the phenomenon it is attempting to quantify (this has to do with interpretation of the results as well). Another way to state it is: How accurately does the measurement account for the phenomenon. Does the measurement fit the task and result in an accurate account of what is being measured?

Potential Problems:
Evaluation of validity requires outside standard to be in place - objective/subjective
Evaluation of reliability requires comparison of the measure with itself - can be answered

Probability : Associated with the null hypothesis and relative to descriptive and sampling statistics. It is the area demarcated by the aforementioned parameters that are set up to determine the certitude of a research hypothesis.

Significance: Related to probability, it is a value region that demarcates the grounds upon which a researcher rejects a null hypothesis or rather a hypothesis that depends on "laws of chance." If x(probability value) falls within this region, then the research hypothesis is thought to be acceptable for reasons other than laws of chance operating.

Empirical Research: systematic research methodology that is planned, data is collected systematically, and reported data and methods with its findings.

A. observes and analyzes activities

B. Projects that are predominately quantitative rely heavily on collecting data that can be

counted and statistically analyzed.

C. Usually seeks to answer

1. What details best describe something such as a person, event, or community?

2. To what degree are two phenomena related to each other?

3. Is there a casual relationship between two phenomena?

Qualitative: (observations/logical processing)

Answers questions about process and description: ethnography, case study, descriptive

-To observe notable features/variables in situation

-No "treatment" or created environment. sample observed as is.

-documentation - written evidence

-archival records: original records - charts maps etc

-interviews/ surveys

-direct observation

-participant observation

Quantitative : (weights/measures)

-Experimental - manipulates variables /aspects/situations and attempts to relate them to one another

random sampling

-Introduction of treatment - predefined relationships of variables

-use of control group for comparing subjects to

-there are also Quasi-groups when sampling isnt random

-focus on isolated variables in a structured situation based in un-natural conditions

Problems with Quantitative : In spite of the perception of the power of numbers to persuade, some audiences distrust numbers; some audiences suspect researchers of bias; some audiences believe that results are not applicable because scientific methods lose sight of the human element; and carrying out an empirical project usually has a high cost in dollars and time.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Week 1 - Modes

Chapters 3 of Hackos and Redish is a description according to Kinneavy’s modes of discourse. It is descriptive because it:

“Report(s) on the reality as if it were not involved in a change.” (7) – The reality is in the form of still shot descriptions of actions to be done during the course of task analysis
In addition, the task analysis chapter allows one “to identify that thing that has been described” (7).It does so by defining what a specific act associated with task analysis is and how it relates to the overall process.

As no one mode is pure, the task analysis chapter incorporates narrative and classification as support for the actions it is describing. Narrative is seen throughout the chapter as italicized examples that work to both display the dynamic nature (moving from potential to actual) of the activities to take place and to move the chapter onto the next subject of description.

Classification is seen in descriptions of the class characteristics that enables “discourse about…individuating characteristics” aka description to be discussed (13).

Chapter 4 of Hackos and Redish works as a narrative in that it allows reality (the user’s environment(s)) to be considered as dynamic. It does so, by demonstrating how the user environment acts upon the process of product design. The narrative is supplemented by description of the different types of environments.

Garret’s “Meet the Elements” chapter works to describe what the elements in the user experience field are with regards to two differently defined sets/categories: that of software interfaces and that of information spaces.
The chapter first depicts a subset of characteristics by which each element can be identified (describing) and then relates it to a larger set of identifiers within either the software interface group or the hypertext info space group (classification).
In addition, it uses narrative to explain the process by which the groups were formed and how ultimately the elements act upon the user’s experience.

Carolyn Miller’s article is one based on the evaluation of specific types of approaches to technical writing. This is seen in its backward looking acts of “narrating” what has been done, assumed, and observed in the field of tech writing in order to show its faults so as to propose a new way of approaching tech writing that requires simultaneous engagement with and critical questioning of non-academic writing curriculum/practices.
In order to carry out her evaluation she uses narrative and description modes to define and problematize her topic area.

Plato's Phaedrus:
Is also based on evaluation though not as overtly as Millers in that quite a bit of it was, as Curtis stated in his post, "overrun with narrative". In addition, it was also quite preoccuppied with description and classification. What we have here is masterful dialectic that requires the wedding of the four modes in a way so as to entertain while instructing.