Swanson PhD Usability Study



Title of Study: WorkSpaces Interface Usability Study

Researcher: Kari Gunvaldson Swanson, Ph.D. Candidate

Researchers’ statement

I am asking you to be in a research study. The purpose of this consent form is to give you the information you will need to help you decide whether to be in the study or not. Please read the form carefully. You may use the email address above to ask me questions about the purpose of the research, what I will ask you to do, the possible risks and benefits, your rights as a volunteer, and anything else about the research or this form that is not clear. When I have answered all your questions, you can decide if you want to be in the study or not. This process is called ‘informed consent.’ You may save or print a copy of this form for your records.


The purpose of this study is to explore whether certain types of design changes in the computer interface can improve the usability of complex programs and how much any changes depend on user characteristics.


You may use any computer you wish that can run the research program. It requires a Silverlight-compatible browser. You can use operating system Windows XP and newer Windows operating systems. You can use also use an Intel-based Macintosh with either Firefox 3 or Safari 3/4 browsers.

If you choose to participate, you must click on the checkbox at the bottom of this form. This action will automatically open the research program. The program has all the materials you will need for this study. The program sends all the data to a single file on a secure server. If you sign this form, the program will create a unique, sequentially numbered ID number for you. The ID links your data together. It cannot be used to identify you personally. The program saves no other data on your computer and will delete the cookie when you exit the application.

The program is ISD WorkSpaces, a tool to design and manage large training programs. When you open the program, you will see the Notebook. The Notebook is an addition to the program that has all the information and materials you will need to do this study. It will keep a copy of this consent form that you can review at any time.

If you choose to continue, the program will first open a background questionnaire. The questionnaire asks general questions about your age range, job experience, and computer preferences. This information will help me understand what characteristics may be important for interface design. It does not include sensitive questions or questions that can identify you specifically. The computer also uses your answers to assign you to one of several versions of the program. You may refuse to answer any question or item in any questionnaire, test, or survey at any time. Some answers are necessary for the program to operate. For example, if you do not answer some questionnaire items, the computer program will not be able to assign you to a study group. Your data cannot be analyzed if you do not complete a task. The program will notify you if this happens and you can choose to continue or quit the study.

You will take a Knowledge test so I can see whether your previous knowledge and experience change how you use the program. Next, you can take about 15 minutes to explore the program on your own. Instructions will point out important features that will help you operate the program. When you are ready, you will open the Notebook again to see instructions for 20 tasks. You will take the role of a person who designs training materials for an airline. You will review data for a new aircraft component and identify necessary modifications to a lesson to introduce how to use that component.

The Notebook will open to the Progress and Comments pages each time you finish a task. After each task, you can enter comments about your experience. When you finish the tasks, you will take another test and a final survey. The survey will rate how you felt about the program. It adds to the comments you leave when you finish tasks.

You will do each part of the study in the order you see on the Progress page. Once you finish a task, you cannot return to it. During a task, you can go to instructions for that task as often as you want. You can go to the Progress and Comments page at any time. You may also review the Consent Form at any time. When all tasks are finished, the Notebook will open a final page. This will tell you more about the study and when you can see the results.


The tasks and information in the program will be unfamiliar to most participants so guesses are expected and intended. There are no right or wrong answers, just faster and slower ways of doing things. If you are unsure about any answer or action, I would like you to guess and keep trying. If you feel frustrated, slow down, take a break. It can feel difficult when you are trying to work in an unfamiliar environment. You can do the tasks in this study at your own speed. Speed is not a critical factor but you should stay focused. The computer program will keep track of where you go and what you do in the program but there is no single correct way to do the tasks.

I will use the Knowledge Checks to see what you already know. This can help me understand how you use the program. If you are feeling stressed, you may take a break or withdraw from the study at any time.

You may choose the most comfortable place and time to take part in this study. During the study you should stand up, stretch, and get a drink at regular intervals. There is no time limit except that I ask you to complete the study on the same day you begin. You can only participate one time. This will help keep each participant's experience more similar. If you exit your web browser before you finish, you cannot re-enter the study. You may take as many breaks as you wish as long as the program remains active. I will not collect any personally identifiable information. I will use general ranges and categories to see whether they affect the way you use the program.


This study will provide information about how to better design applications that require complex tasks to be performed, such as those often used on the job.


All results will be anonymous. The database will assign each user an ID number. I will see only that number. I will not know who has taken part. I will not be able to identify results with a particular person. All data will remain confidential. Only I or those directly helping me will have access to the unprocessed data. The data may be kept for up to 10 years for more analysis. Results may be published.

Taking part in this study is voluntary - you may stop at any time. I have no financial support for this study so I can offer no payment for your time and effort. I will, however, very much appreciate your help.

Kari Gunvaldson Swanson
Printed name of researcher

Signature of researcher Researcher Signature

15 September 2010

Subject’s statement

I verify that I am 18 years of age or older. This study has been explained to me. I volunteer to take part in this research. I have had a chance to ask questions. If I have questions later about the research, I can ask the researcher listed above. If I have questions about my rights as a research subject, I can call the Human Subjects Division at (206) 543-0098. I can print a copy of this consent form or save it to a file.

Choose to help Check this box to indicate your informed consent to participate in this study.

If you do not want to particpate, you can exit by closing your browser window.