Research Projects

Student Interviews Recruitment Website

RoomReader

RoomReader is an industry-facing academic research project looking at developing new technology to improve the online learning experience for third level students. The research team contains representatives from University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, and the Adapt Centre, who report their findings to the two industry partners: Microsoft Ireland and Microsoft Research Cambridge.

As a postdoctoral researcher, I lead the UX branch of the project. This involves qualitative research of the key gaps and pain points of the online teaching software as described by the core users (tutors and students). Through semi-structured interviews and thematic analysis of the transcripts, specific and actionable problem statements are created to aid in the formation of user-driven solutions.

To aid engineers in the development of the technology, as UX lead, I am involved in the creation of user personas, scenario building, and prototyping interface designs. As the project progresses, core users will be invited for ongoing usability testing, maintaining a consistent user-centred philosophy.

Institution:

University College Dublin

Project Duration:

15 months (In Progress)

Project Type:

Industry-facing Academic Research

Key Skills:

  • Qualitative user research, including surveys, interviews, and usability testing.
  • UX design development, including persona creation, scenario building, and prototyping.
  • Project management
  • Recruitment Site Design

2021 – Article based on PhD research

Interface Design Research – Gamification

Experiment screenshots

Gamification mechanics (such as points and leaderboards) are commonly used to increase engagement of digital interfaces online. However, there is currently little research explaining the underlying psychological mechanisms behind their success. This has made it difficult to outline clear best-practice design guidelines for the effective implementation of gamification mechanics. To tackle this issue, I designed and ran two online experiments which looked at how the timing of these digital rewards affected user engagement. The results of this study provided a clear understanding of the key psychological principles affecting user interactions (e.g. temporal discounting), and added another insight into how to improve the efficacy of gamified rewards.

The studies showed that participants significantly preferred rewards that were given as soon as they logged in, compared to after they had completed an interaction within the fictional application. This highlights the importance of rewarding users early in the interaction, as it improves user engagement with the application. The findings were published in the International Journal of Human Computer Studies: 10.1016/j.ijhcs.2021.102661.

The studies required extensive project management skills, both for in the experimental design and administration. The experiments were optimised through cognitive modelling and machine learning techniques based on a robust examination of the relevant theory. Complex power simulations allowed the experiments to be optimised for the data being collected while reducing the cost of recruitment. Lastly, the data was analysed using the modern statistical models (e.g. Linear Mixed Effects Models).

Institution:

University College Dublin

Project Duration:

24 months

Project Type:

HCI PhD Research

Key Skills:

  • Quantitative analysis, including experimental design, data manipulation, and statistical analysis (Linear Mixed Effects Models).
  • Project management
  • Recruitment Site Design