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Introduction to the Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences
Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences
The Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences is building a behavioral lab to support faculty and graduate students to conduct research in which real people are observed using various technologies on various tasks in various conditions. For example, Andre van der Hoek and his students are studying how teams of software developers conduct design using an electronic whiteboard. Judy and Gary Olson and their students observe groups of 10 people working on a coordination task, with 5 of the group members meeting face-to-face and 5 others communicating only by email (“remote workers”). Susan Sims and her group study how software developers understand source code by having them think aloud while doing a design or maintenance task. In the future, some of the undergraduate classes may participate in usability studies, where they also observe people using software to uncover where their designs need to change in order to be user friendly.
All of these (and many more) projects require video and audio capture of these participants doing their work, as well as logs of their behavior on various technologies. The lab consists of one room large enough to hold up to 8 people, working either at a table (on computers) or on an electronic whiteboard or other technology. This room can be used for studies of team or group work as well as for conducting focus groups. A second existing room has been divided into 5 rooms, where we can have “remote” group members in an Olson-type study or individuals working on a task, or an individual and an experimenter (e.g. for interviews). All of the rooms will have the ability to video and audio record, independently. The third room is between the other two, and will serve as a control room. It is here that the recording and switching equipment will be housed. It is here, too, that the experimenter can speak to and hear people in the various rooms, e.g., for telling them when to start and stop a task, or to answer clarifying questions. There is also an office next to the lab to be used by the lab manager, for storage, and for an analysis/editing workstation. This room will have a rack of 12 PC laptops ready (charged) for use in the individual and group rooms.
About the Host
Judith Olson is the Bren Professor of Information and Computer Sciences in the Informatics Department at the UC Irvine, with courtesy appointments in the School of Social Ecology and the Merage School of Business. She has researched teams whose members are not collocated for over 20 years, summaries of which are found in her most cited paper, “Distance Matters,” (Olson & Olson, 2000), and in her key theoretical contribution in the book Scientific Collaboration on the Internet (Olson, Zimerman, and Bos, Eds., 2008).
Her current work focuses on ways to verify the theory’s components while at the same time helping new scientific collaborations succeed. She has studied distributed teams both in the field and in the laboratory, the latter focusing on the communication hurdles distributed teams have and the consequent underutilization of remote team members skills and the reduction in trust.
She is a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery and with her husband and colleague, Gary Olson, holds the Lifetime Achievement award from the Special Interest Group in Computer Human Interaction.