Reading Commentary for 3/14/2013 (Controlled Experiments)

Here are a few things regarding the chapter on controlled experiments that I find worthy of note:
• At the very beginning of the chapter, the authors make mention that controlled experiments are more widely used in research than in practice. That makes sense, but it got me to thinking, how often does one test an interface that in NOT designed to be used in practice? It would seem to me that the purpose of designing an interface is so that it can be used. My only response to my own question would be that the research would be for more experimental or unique interfaces that have not quite extended themselves beyond the level of theoretical concepts yet.
• I do like how the chapter breaks down “the process”. I am still somewhat new to the “peer review paper” analysis and this section provided some really helpful structured guidance on how to review the various sections of the papers that I read. (I only wish I had read this chapter two weeks ago when I was working on an assignment that required the review of 8 papers!)
• Also in Section 1.2, in my limited knowledge of independent and dependent variables, I always understood that there could be only 1 dependent variable. I found it interesting that it is mentioned that there can exists experimental situations with multiple dependent variables. It made me think of some of the papers I read in the aforementioned assignment where I had to read 8 papers. I found a few of them difficult to follow because it appears to me now that they all suffered from having multiple dependent variables. In these papers, I felt that the experiment seemed to “get out of hand” or perhaps suffered from “scope creep”. Papers that had single, well stated and clear objectives seemed to have a better validity to me. Perhaps, experiments that have multiple dependent variables should at least consider breaking the experiment into several experiments. Then again, maybe it is just my limited experience give me this feeling of limited cognitive capacity. I think this may have been addressed in the “bigger investigations” near the end of the section.
• I experience a mild sense of intellectual joy when I read how the experiment discussed in Section 3 used the GOMS model to establish some experimental “baselines”. I continue to enjoy how content from previous classes in the HCC program actually contribute to my understanding in other classes.


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