Home | Projects | Presentations | Conferences | Affiliations | Publications | Bookmarks | Blog | Contact

Student's World: Photo Diary Study
Nicole Hennig, MIT Libraries, Spring 2006


1. Web version of slides for Computers in Libraries, 2007, April 16.
***Student's World: Photo Diary Study: PDF version of slides***

This talk is in Track B: Web design and development

2. User needs assessment: photo diary study - MIT Libraries staff web documentation pages

3. Copy of the report in MIT's DSpace - July 17, 2006

Photo/Diary Study

The photo/diary study consisted of asking a group of graduate and undergraduate students to keep a diary and take photos and screen shots of their information seeking activiites for the course of a week (related to their academic life).

The students were then interviewed in depth by members of the MIT Libraries staff, using the photo diaries to assist in telling the detailed story of their week.

The study was designed to help spark new ways to understand the information needs of our users, by allowing us to see the full breadth of their information seeking behavior. Seeing this complete context would, we anticipated, help highlight the service gaps that the MIT Libraries could fill.

The method

This study was built using methodology from the field of anthropology known as a "cultural probe." The premise behind a cultural probe is that better results can be achieved by studying people in their own environment. Since it is not practical to observe participants at all times, a device (such as a camera, as we used here) is given to participants to help them record what they do, and then is later used to prompt memory of the events captured.

Two books proved very helpful in planning this project:

Contextual Design by Hugh Beyer and Karen Holtzblatt
Especially chapter 7: The Interpretation Session

Understanding Your Users: A Practical Guide to User Requirements Methods, Tools, and Techniques
by Catherine Courage and Kathy Baxter
Especially chapter 7: Interviews

Nicole Hennig, Web Manager & Usability Specialist, MIT Libraries, Cambridge, MA
personal email: nic@hennigweb.com
work email: hennig@mit.edu