Co-constructing stories: an evaluation method for future tech concepts

Co-Constructing Stories (CCS) is particularly suited for the evaluation of technology that is still in the conception phase, as it permits potential users to make judgments about future design concepts through linking them to their own past (or current) experiences. The method consists of two phases: sensitization and elaboration. In the sensitization phase, users are asked whether they recognize a particular story and is invited to talk about their own experiences in this context. In the elaboration phase the researcher introduces the concept-to-be-evaluated as an additional element to the story, and participants are then invited to tell how they believe the story would play out after the introduction of that element.

Four kids, and four of their parents (one parent per child), were interviewed separately at a local community center in HIA. In each group, two co-constructing stories sessions. Scenarios were presented with the visual aid of comic-like storyboards.

In the first scenario, the sensitizing story is about a girl who is going to school by herself. She is told by her mother to be careful on her way to school. She gets to school just in time. The story is elaborated to include a handheld smart device, and the mother asks the girl to check in when she gets to school, which the girl does.

The second scenario uses a sensitizing story of a boy who is bored at home, not knowing that fairly close by two of his friends are playing outside. The elaborated story introduces a handheld smart device, which allows the boy to see where his friends are, prompting him to go outside to join them.

You can see the slides used below for both scenarios, creating with toondoo.com.

The interviews were semi-structured, meaning that interviewees could divert from the questions asked, provided they remained within the general theme of discussion. Each group (parents and children) interview lasted approximately 30 minutes (15 minutes per scenario), in which approximately 5 minutes were spent discussing the sensitizing story, and 10 minutes were spent discussing the elaboration story. First, the sensitizing story was shown as a storyboard, then the discussion was initiated by asking the participants if they recognize that story in their lives. Their led to follow-up questions to elicit more information about the shape and variation this scenario takes individually for each participant. Afterwards, the elaborating story was introduced on the storyboard, and to stimulate the discussion participants were asked if they would find the introduced technology useful. Their answers would also lead to further questions regarding why they found a certain enhancement useful (or not), and what specifically made it perceivably more useful.

Audio from the interviews was recorded and transcribed afterwards. Qualitative data analysis is in progress!

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