Workshop 2 | Bringing Creativity to Research Interactions with Activity-Based Protocols

Leveraging activity-based protocols to shift perspective away from crafting the “right question”

You’re going into a research study, and are ready to converse with recruited participants. You are mindful that research needs to produce valuable output, and really hope for participants who answer your perfect question with a helpful answer. So much is dependent on the act of asking “one good question”, which is expected to yield the answers to all unknowns.

But do we researchers really ask questions exactly as they are crafted? And, is there a better way to get participants to articulate their thoughts so that both researchers and participants can be more creative, and enjoy the process overall?

Researchers need to make participants comfortable, so that learning objectives can be met. Participants need to be given a moment to dwell in the research ask, so that they can provide a well-rounded and evidencebased answer. There is a way to achieve this while being empathic to both the researcher and the participant. Research itself is a complex process, where a moderator will ask complete strangers to share stories about themselves, and open up in a way that creates a comfortable environment. In order to make that interaction meaningful, researchers must inject creativity into the way questions are “asked”.

Let’s rethink the way we interact during research studies, and bring more creative detail to the way we ask participants to share stories.

In this workshop, attendees can expect Meena to discuss:

  • The basic elements of a protocol designed for a research study
  • Approaches to converting a protocol from being question-based to being activity-based, using example questions
  • The value of different activities, as a means of allowing participants a chance to answer questions with additional depth
  • The variety of activities that can make research studies more engaging and fun (for both researcher and participant)
  • Notes structures that provide easy recording of information discussed during research sessions
  • Mitigation of bias by using activity-based protocols
  • Benefits to activity-based protocols when multiple moderators are involved

Attendees will be asked to generate a list of typical questions used in studies, and then asked to convert them into activity-based questions in small groups. Everyone will be given time to apply the techniques discussed, and come away with a strong understanding of how to create an engaging protocol. The contents of this workshop are immediately applicable! Meena conducted this workshop with great success at UXPA 2019.

Meena Kothandaraman
Experience strategist at twig+fish