Ethnographic Research for 6-12 year olds: Any thoughts?

17 Sep 2007 - 10:37am
7 years ago
9 replies
1250 reads
Julian McCrea
2007

Hey guys,

First time post, long time listener to this thought-provoking 'community
of practice' ;)

I am doing some ethnographic research with 6-12 year old children (10 in
sample, 50/50 mix between boys and girls, across ethnicities). This is
quite a large age range so we are choosing 9 year olds (for the sake of
our project).

The objective of the research is to a) find out their digital behaviour
for a day b) find out their views of our client.

Just wondered if any one else has any pointers for this age group? First
thoughts that came into mind:

1) Single or group? - I am thinking single participants as a group
will lead to a 'collective opinion' (I don't need this)

2) Duration of session? - I am thinking 20 minutes max (or how
long their current lessons are)

3) Type of facilitator? - thinking two facilitators (one talking,
one taking notes) who DON'T look like adults, more older brothers.
Thinking the kids will not be as open with a facilitator who 'looks'
like an adult

4) Video? - going for this option (don't worry we have consent) to
check for digital behaviour with devices in a playground/computer room
etc.

5) Style of questioning? - I am thinking quite open for these
kids, as their articulation of their digital day (and our client) might
provide interesting insights.

What are your thoughts on this approach? Can you point me in any
questionnaires/approaches that could be of use?

Thanks,

Julian McCrea
User Experience Architect

Comments

17 Sep 2007 - 11:06am
Carol J. Smith
2007

Hello Julian,

Having recently done some research on this age group I'm happy to help. I do
not recommend choosing a mid-point, but rather have 3 ranges. 6 year olds
generally are illiterate and not computer savvy whereas by 9 and certainly
by 12 children possess the ability to not only read but use computers for a
variety of purposes beyond gaming. There are many other changes during these
age ranges as well such as social skills etc. You could do 6-7, 8-9 and
10-12 for instance. While this does increase your need for participants it
will give you better results IMHO.

It is difficult to find information on this age group - not much work has
been published. Here is some more feedback on your questions.

>1) Single or group? - I am thinking single participants as a group
>will lead to a 'collective opinion' (I don't need this)
Doing groups (small - 2 or 3 children) for observation will allow you to see
how the children use a product when they play together. Younger children are
not as likely to use a computer system by themselves for long periods. Be
prepared children can be difficult to get talking - one word answers are
common so be prepared with lots of questions.

>2) Duration of session? - I am thinking 20 minutes max (or how
>long their current lessons are)
20 minutes is great for the youngest as they won't talk much anyway, the
older children may be willing to go on a bit longer. If you mean school
lessons they are generally 40 - 60 minutes.

>3) Type of facilitator? - thinking two facilitators (one talking,
>one taking notes) who DON'T look like adults, more older brothers.
>Thinking the kids will not be as open with a facilitator who 'looks'
>like an adult
Correct - they may be intimidated by "fancy" dress as well. If the person
can take notes outside the room or even tape record the conversation for
later transcription that would probably be better. Parents may want to be
present - that can in some cases make the child feel more secure and in
other cases make them feel intimidated.

>4) Video? - going for this option (don't worry we have consent) to
>check for digital behaviour with devices in a playground/computer room
>etc.
Definitely!

>5) Style of questioning? - I am thinking quite open for these
>kids, as their articulation of their digital day (and our client) might
>provide interesting insights.
Open is good - but as I said have many questions prepared in case they are
nervous and don't say much. Warm them up by talking about their interests.

Hope that helps!

Carol Smith
Midwest Research
www.mw-research.com

On 9/17/07, Julian Mccrea <Julian.Mccrea at wearegt.com> wrote:
>
> Hey guys,
>
>
>
> First time post, long time listener to this thought-provoking 'community
> of practice' ;)
>
>
>
> I am doing some ethnographic research with 6-12 year old children (10 in
> sample, 50/50 mix between boys and girls, across ethnicities). This is
> quite a large age range so we are choosing 9 year olds (for the sake of
> our project).
>
>
>
> The objective of the research is to a) find out their digital behaviour
> for a day b) find out their views of our client.
>
>
>
> Just wondered if any one else has any pointers for this age group? First
> thoughts that came into mind:
>
>
>
> 1) Single or group? - I am thinking single participants as a group
> will lead to a 'collective opinion' (I don't need this)
>
> 2) Duration of session? - I am thinking 20 minutes max (or how
> long their current lessons are)
>
> 3) Type of facilitator? - thinking two facilitators (one talking,
> one taking notes) who DON'T look like adults, more older brothers.
> Thinking the kids will not be as open with a facilitator who 'looks'
> like an adult
>
> 4) Video? - going for this option (don't worry we have consent) to
> check for digital behaviour with devices in a playground/computer room
> etc.
>
> 5) Style of questioning? - I am thinking quite open for these
> kids, as their articulation of their digital day (and our client) might
> provide interesting insights.
>
>
>
> What are your thoughts on this approach? Can you point me in any
> questionnaires/approaches that could be of use?
>
>
>
> Thanks,
>
>
>
> Julian McCrea
> User Experience Architect
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>

17 Sep 2007 - 11:19am
Tania Schlatter
2007

With this age group you'll get more information from observation than
from questions. It is good if you can give them an activity to do on
their own or in pairs and watch what they do. After the activity,
questions based on what you observed may or may not be helpful. If
working with a group, it is better to ask questions quietly one on
one. The number of researchers will need to depend on the number of
kids that you're working with. If with one child at a time, have
just one researcher per child. If a group, maybe about 6-8 kids for 2
reaserchers.

Best,

Tania Schlatter

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=20541

17 Sep 2007 - 11:37am
Shilpa
2007

Hi Tania,
In another life-time of my career I was involved with a folks doing research and development for technology for kids.

I suggest you contact Alison Druin (http://iat.ubalt.edu/courses/old/idia610.085_F03/druin.htm) or review some of her work with children and approaches to applying ethnography research to collect data on kids in group situations. And if you want to refer to more classics I'd read work done by Vygotsky and research in Activity Theory.

Additionally, Dr. Alfred Bork of UCIrvine has made his life time passion and mission to bring to third world countries technology for children and will likely provide you with relevant white papers and methodologies.

Best,
Shilpa

tania Schlatter <tania at nimblepartners.com> wrote:
With this age group you'll get more information from observation than
from questions. It is good if you can give them an activity to do on
their own or in pairs and watch what they do. After the activity,
questions based on what you observed may or may not be helpful. If
working with a group, it is better to ask questions quietly one on
one. The number of researchers will need to depend on the number of
kids that you're working with. If with one child at a time, have
just one researcher per child. If a group, maybe about 6-8 kids for 2
reaserchers.

Best,

Tania Schlatter

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=20541

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17 Sep 2007 - 2:05pm
George Schneiderman
2004

>Having recently done some research on this age group I'm happy to help. I do
>not recommend choosing a mid-point, but rather have 3 ranges. 6 year olds
>generally are illiterate and not computer savvy whereas by 9 and certainly
>by 12 children possess the ability to not only read but use computers for a
>variety of purposes beyond gaming. There are many other changes during these
>age ranges as well such as social skills etc. You could do 6-7, 8-9 and
>10-12 for instance. While this does increase your need for participants it
>will give you better results IMHO.

I would very much echo that point. Accurate generalization from 9-year olds (3rd graders) to either 6-year olds (Kindergarteners) or 12 year olds (6th graders) is pretty much impossible. Children change enormously from one year to another. In most respects 6-year olds and 12-year olds are vastly more different from one another than, say, 20-year olds and 50-year olds.

My oldest son is four and a half and has actually been reading for a few months now (he is rather advanced for his age). He has very recently discovered how to apply his newfound literacy to controlling iPods (hooked up to external speakers--I don't think he has ever used them with headphones), the DVR, and DVD menus. It is a lot of fun to watch, both in terms of his learning how to navigate the interfaces, and his dawning awareness of the power of literacy in a digital world.

It's funny with the DVR--we virtually never watch "live TV", and he really doesn't quite get the concept of broadcasting. We do listen to the radio, particularly in the car, and he is just starting to understand that if we leave the iPod at home, we can listen to the radio but cannot play specific songs on demand.

--George

-----Original Message-----
>From: Carol Smith <carologic at gmail.com>
>Sent: Sep 17, 2007 1:06 PM
>To: Julian Mccrea <Julian.Mccrea at wearegt.com>
>Cc: discuss at ixda.org
>Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Ethnographic Research for 6-12 year olds: Any thoughts?
>
>Hello Julian,
>
>Having recently done some research on this age group I'm happy to help. I do
>not recommend choosing a mid-point, but rather have 3 ranges. 6 year olds
>generally are illiterate and not computer savvy whereas by 9 and certainly
>by 12 children possess the ability to not only read but use computers for a
>variety of purposes beyond gaming. There are many other changes during these
>age ranges as well such as social skills etc. You could do 6-7, 8-9 and
>10-12 for instance. While this does increase your need for participants it
>will give you better results IMHO.
>
>It is difficult to find information on this age group - not much work has
>been published. Here is some more feedback on your questions.
>
>>1) Single or group? - I am thinking single participants as a group
>>will lead to a 'collective opinion' (I don't need this)
>Doing groups (small - 2 or 3 children) for observation will allow you to see
>how the children use a product when they play together. Younger children are
>not as likely to use a computer system by themselves for long periods. Be
>prepared children can be difficult to get talking - one word answers are
>common so be prepared with lots of questions.
>
>>2) Duration of session? - I am thinking 20 minutes max (or how
>>long their current lessons are)
>20 minutes is great for the youngest as they won't talk much anyway, the
>older children may be willing to go on a bit longer. If you mean school
>lessons they are generally 40 - 60 minutes.
>
>>3) Type of facilitator? - thinking two facilitators (one talking,
>>one taking notes) who DON'T look like adults, more older brothers.
>>Thinking the kids will not be as open with a facilitator who 'looks'
>>like an adult
>Correct - they may be intimidated by "fancy" dress as well. If the person
>can take notes outside the room or even tape record the conversation for
>later transcription that would probably be better. Parents may want to be
>present - that can in some cases make the child feel more secure and in
>other cases make them feel intimidated.
>
>>4) Video? - going for this option (don't worry we have consent) to
>>check for digital behaviour with devices in a playground/computer room
>>etc.
>Definitely!
>
>>5) Style of questioning? - I am thinking quite open for these
>>kids, as their articulation of their digital day (and our client) might
>>provide interesting insights.
>Open is good - but as I said have many questions prepared in case they are
>nervous and don't say much. Warm them up by talking about their interests.
>
>Hope that helps!
>
>Carol Smith
>Midwest Research
>www.mw-research.com
>
>
>
>On 9/17/07, Julian Mccrea <Julian.Mccrea at wearegt.com> wrote:
>>
>> Hey guys,
>>
>>
>>
>> First time post, long time listener to this thought-provoking 'community
>> of practice' ;)
>>
>>
>>
>> I am doing some ethnographic research with 6-12 year old children (10 in
>> sample, 50/50 mix between boys and girls, across ethnicities). This is
>> quite a large age range so we are choosing 9 year olds (for the sake of
>> our project).
>>
>>
>>
>> The objective of the research is to a) find out their digital behaviour
>> for a day b) find out their views of our client.
>>
>>
>>
>> Just wondered if any one else has any pointers for this age group? First
>> thoughts that came into mind:
>>
>>
>>
>> 1) Single or group? - I am thinking single participants as a group
>> will lead to a 'collective opinion' (I don't need this)
>>
>> 2) Duration of session? - I am thinking 20 minutes max (or how
>> long their current lessons are)
>>
>> 3) Type of facilitator? - thinking two facilitators (one talking,
>> one taking notes) who DON'T look like adults, more older brothers.
>> Thinking the kids will not be as open with a facilitator who 'looks'
>> like an adult
>>
>> 4) Video? - going for this option (don't worry we have consent) to
>> check for digital behaviour with devices in a playground/computer room
>> etc.
>>
>> 5) Style of questioning? - I am thinking quite open for these
>> kids, as their articulation of their digital day (and our client) might
>> provide interesting insights.
>>
>>
>>
>> What are your thoughts on this approach? Can you point me in any
>> questionnaires/approaches that could be of use?
>>
>>
>>
>> Thanks,
>>
>>
>>
>> Julian McCrea
>> User Experience Architect
>>
>>
>>
>> ________________________________________________________________
>> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
>> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
>> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
>> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
>> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>>
>________________________________________________________________
>Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
>List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
>Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
>Questions .................. list at ixda.org
>Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org

17 Sep 2007 - 3:07pm
Bryce Glass
2007

I would strongly caution you against the 'hide a microphone in your
raincoat and hang around playgrounds' methodology. Trust me, nothing
good will come of that.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=20541

17 Sep 2007 - 3:18pm
Jim Scarola4
2007

I%u2019m doing some research into sites that use a modular/contextual design approach, and was wondering if anybody knew of any examples. I%u2019ll use the concept of iGoogle to illustrate exactly what I mean%u2026

Say I%u2019d like to add more content to my personalized homepage. With the current design, I click %u201CAdd Stuff%u201D to add more content. This takes me to a separate area that contains a catalogue of available widgets. Even though I mentally recall that I%u2019m adding content to my homepage, this area is visually independent of the homepage itself. It%u2019s out of context.

Now, consider an alternate approach. Say I clicked %u201CAdd Stuff%u201D and a layer (possibly 80% of the page) appeared, taking focus above the homepage. Within the layer, I could browse the catalogue of available widgets. The catalogue itself is similar to the first case, however the layer approach allows browsing/selection to occur within the context of its destination %u2013 the homepage.

If anybody is aware of any site that uses a similar approach %u2013 whatever the subject matter %u2013 I%u2019d greatly appreciate your help.

Thanks in advance!

18 Sep 2007 - 3:32pm
gloria
2007

Hi Julian,

Most of the recommendations that you have been given so far are
pertinent. You may also find some benefit from reading material
written by early childhood educators on applying ethnographic
approaches with children. Plenty of books have been written on this
topic. Teachers use ethnographic methods every day in their practice
and I have found that some of their approaches are easily adjustable
to other contexts.

Are these children going to be observed in their natural setting or
outside of it? Do the children know the people they are going to be
working with or not? All of these factors and others will impact your
results one way or another. So it's important to keep them in mind
when designing your intervention.

One more thing, I suggest getting a book on child development (any
book would do). Books of this kind have useful information on
children's motor, cognitive and socialization skills at different
stages of development.

Cheers, Gloria

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=20541

18 Sep 2007 - 7:32pm
Robert Reimann
2003

Lots of great comments, which I would echo as well. One additional
tip: You may want to try working with educators for those age ranges
in developing your protocol, or even working with you to facilitate.

Robert.

On 9/18/07, gloria gomez <ggomez at swin.edu.au> wrote:
> Hi Julian,
>
> Most of the recommendations that you have been given so far are
> pertinent. You may also find some benefit from reading material
> written by early childhood educators on applying ethnographic
> approaches with children. Plenty of books have been written on this
> topic. Teachers use ethnographic methods every day in their practice
> and I have found that some of their approaches are easily adjustable
> to other contexts.
>
> Are these children going to be observed in their natural setting or
> outside of it? Do the children know the people they are going to be
> working with or not? All of these factors and others will impact your
> results one way or another. So it's important to keep them in mind
> when designing your intervention.
>
> One more thing, I suggest getting a book on child development (any
> book would do). Books of this kind have useful information on
> children's motor, cognitive and socialization skills at different
> stages of development.
>
> Cheers, Gloria
>
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=20541
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>

--
Robert Reimann
President, IxDA
Interaction Design Association

--
Robert Reimann
President, IxDA
Interaction Design Association

18 Sep 2007 - 11:09pm
PREETI SALUJA
2007

Dear Julian,
I am basically a Toy Designer ...so I guess some insights from
my experience would help you...coz I did ethnographic research for this gae
group during my internship.
There is a marked difference between activities and knowledge(esp. in terms
of digital equipments) between 9-12 and 12-15 yrs..
the latter group is very clear about their preferences and for 9-12 more of
observation..and if possible in a very natural surroundings ..work.
Interviewing them in small groups helps a lot because it is sometimes very
revealing..but one needs to keep track of the direction in which your
discussion is going.
Its better to meet one group twice..may be keeping a gap of two-three
days...to have a thorough study.
You can take lot of visual media..pictures, movies,books..and talk to them,
slowly arriving at the topic.
Do not prompt or give multiple choices...they will immediately pick your
words to express themselves.
I did user survey for an electronic communication device and for that I had
conducted essay contests and had asked them to draw their dream
communication device. I must say..it was the best survey because they came
up with the weirdest ideas on earth!
But its very important to discuss with each participant over the
drawing/essay to know the reason behind the idea or to know what actually
influences them.
Regarding recording such sessions, its important that they do not come to
know about the cameras ...so that they participate without hesitation...its
a li'l tough though:)
All the best!

On 9/19/07, Robert Reimann <rmreimann at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Lots of great comments, which I would echo as well. One additional
> tip: You may want to try working with educators for those age ranges
> in developing your protocol, or even working with you to facilitate.
>
> Robert.
>
> On 9/18/07, gloria gomez <ggomez at swin.edu.au> wrote:
> > Hi Julian,
> >
> > Most of the recommendations that you have been given so far are
> > pertinent. You may also find some benefit from reading material
> > written by early childhood educators on applying ethnographic
> > approaches with children. Plenty of books have been written on this
> > topic. Teachers use ethnographic methods every day in their practice
> > and I have found that some of their approaches are easily adjustable
> > to other contexts.
> >
> > Are these children going to be observed in their natural setting or
> > outside of it? Do the children know the people they are going to be
> > working with or not? All of these factors and others will impact your
> > results one way or another. So it's important to keep them in mind
> > when designing your intervention.
> >
> > One more thing, I suggest getting a book on child development (any
> > book would do). Books of this kind have useful information on
> > children's motor, cognitive and socialization skills at different
> > stages of development.
> >
> > Cheers, Gloria
> >
> >
> >
> > . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> > Posted from the new ixda.org
> > http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=20541
> >
> >
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> > List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> > Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> > Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> > Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
> >
>
>
> --
> Robert Reimann
> President, IxDA
> Interaction Design Association
>
>
> --
> Robert Reimann
> President, IxDA
> Interaction Design Association
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>

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