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Adapting Co-Constructing Stories to the Mindset of Teenagers

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Abstract and Figures

Teenagers are sometimes difficult to engage in mean- ingful conversations. We introduce a user study with teenagers where we utilised Co-constructing Stories, a participatory design method using past and current experiences of users to stimulate their visions about a new concept. We argue that Co-Constructing Stories can be helpful when working with teenagers, if adapted to the mindset of that user group. We explain how we adapted the method while working with teenagers and give recommendations for designers who might use the same method with teenagers.
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Adapting Co-Constructing Stories to
the Mindset of Teenagers
Abstract
Teenagers are sometimes difficult to engage in mean-
ingful conversations. We introduce a user study with
teenagers where we utilised Co-constructing Stories, a
participatory design method using past and current
experiences of users to stimulate their visions about a
new concept. We argue that Co-Constructing Stories
can be helpful when working with teenagers, if adapted
to the mindset of that user group. We explain how we
adapted the method while working with teenagers and
give recommendations for designers who might use the
same method with teenagers.
Author Keywords
User Experience; Storytelling; Persuasion; Teenagers
ACM Classification Keywords
H.5.m. Information interfaces and presentation (e.g.,
HCI): Miscellaneous.
Introduction
Storytelling is often used in UX design, empowering
designers to think in terms of users’ experience [4].
When designing for teenagers, it might be challenging
to engage in meaningful conversations with them which
would elicit stories revealing their needs and values.
Teenagers might be bashful when talking about their
feelings or might become defensive when faced with
probing questions. How can we overcome inhibitions
and thresholds that some teenagers might have, and
Hanna Zoon
Eindhoven University of Technology
Industrial Design Department
P.O.Box 513, 5600 MB Eindhoven
The Netherlands
h.m.zoon@student.tue.nl
Derya Ozcelik Buskermolen
Eindhoven University of Technology
Industrial Design Department
P.O.Box 513, 5600 MB Eindhoven
The Netherlands
d.ozcelik@tue.nl
Copyright is held by the author/owner(s).
CHI’13, April 27 – May 2, 2013, Paris, France.
ACM 978-1-4503-1952-2/13/04
elicit useful user reflections from them?
The Co-constructing Stories method [3] aims to get
input from potential users in the early stages of a con-
cept, through eliciting users’ real life stories and their
visions about how the concept would be valuable for
them in the future. We thought that the Co-
constructing Stories method would be suitable to talk
with teenagers as it is non-directive yet structured.
Moreover it aims to elicit information about the current
context and users’ envisioning about the future, reveal-
ing their needs and values.
Co-Constructing Stories
The Co-constructing Stories method is a technique to
evaluate concepts in early stages of development, to-
gether with the intended users. It produces in-depth
qualitative user feedback, revealing important values
and motivations of users. Assuming that memories,
experiences and dreams are closely linked, users can
make better judgments about novel design concepts if
they link them to their own past experiences.
The technique consists of two phases: sensitisation and
elaboration (Fig. 1). The sensitisation phase aims to
make participants think about their past experiences.
In this phase the designer tells a (fictional) story intro-
ducing the context of interest. Then the user is asked
whether he recognises the story and invited to tell his
(lived) experiences akin to the one in the story. In the
elaboration phase the designer tells the story explaining
the proposed concept. Then he asks user to retell the
stories he told in the first phase by introducing the con-
cept in the scenes. How this event would look like if you
had the concept back then? These stories enrich de-
signers’ understanding about the current situation and
users’ needs and values.
Fig. 1: Phases of the Co-Constructing Stories technique
Case Study: LightScribe
The case where we applied the method was the design
of a LightScribe application for teenagers (Fig. 2) [9].
For this project we wanted to confirm favourite activi-
ties of teenagers (12-18 years old) in their free time
and evaluate how they would react to the concept of
painting with light as an activity to be done in their lei-
sure time.
To elicit this information we wanted to talk with teenag-
ers. Intuitively, we thought that imposing a strictly
structured interview would be met with resistance. We
looked for a method to help us facilitate an open
dialogue and encourage teenagers to speak their
minds. The Co-constructing Stories method provided a
solution by being neither restrictive nor unstructured.
Co-constructing Stories with Teenagers
In the original Co-constructing Stories method, the
dialogue starts with a fictional story about a recognis-
able situation, told by the designer to set the stage for
dialogue. In our case, we also started with a story, but
in the form of a music video-style clip. It showed ‘cool’
activities like playing football, going to parties, chatting
with friends or looking at videoclips together [8]. We
preferred introducing the topic via such clips to show
the activities as recognisable and attractive enough to
help the participants say ‘I do that too’, eliminating
feelings of social awkwardness as much as possible.
The second half of a Co-Constructing Stories session is
devoted to eliciting fantasies, ideas and stories about
the proposed concept. To evoke interest for LightScrib-
ing, a video of a famous light-graffiti artist was shown
[2]. Afterwards the participants went outside for a live
tryout of painting with light, to provide insight in how
LightScribing works. They were very involved, inquisi-
tive and surprised by their own work. Afterwards, the
participants talked about how they would use the con-
cept, what it meant to them, how it would be received
by their friends, how it could work technically.
Fig. 2: The LightScribe App
Although the Co-constructing Stories method recom-
mends one-on-one designer-user dialogue, our session
was done with all participants together. It was thought
that this might invite more spontaneous conversation,
as they would talk amongst each other as well as to the
interviewer. Indeed, the participants also interacted
with each other, and this provided different stories than
we would otherwise have gotten, but the teenagers
were also aware of peer pressure to not say ‘stupid’
things. Perhaps in a one-on-one interview situation, the
participants might still be anxious about this, but also
holding back more because of talking to an outsider.
Future research should provide more insight into this.
During video analysis of the session, those parts were
selected where participants talked more lively and en-
thusiastically, as it was assumed that this was when
they would be likely to talk about the subjects most
important to them. Within these parts, we looked for
underlying values [4], keeping in mind known psycho-
logical needs for positive experiences [5].
Three themes were apparently important for this user
group: feeling related through keeping in touch with
friends, and feeling competent by doing activities that
they feel good about or by producing something that
they can be proud of. Autonomy, in freedom of choos-
ing location and company was also important [6].
Recommendations for Designers
Getting teenagers to cooperate enthusiastically with a
user evaluation might require some subtle persuasive
techniques. A well known compliance principle is recip-
rocation [1]. The Co-constructing Stories method uses
this by starting with ‘giving’ an attractive story, so the
participants are compelled to ‘give’ something in return.
Another compliance tactic that could be working here,
is social proof. The designer provides a model of how to
act by starting to tell a story. It is then easier for the
participants to follow that lead. Working with partici-
pants in a group might enhance social proof, which can
be a positive influence provided that (nearly) all partici-
pants actively cooperate.
Making a user session as appealing as possible is also
very important. The use of different modalities is rec-
ommended, for example combining interviews with mu-
sic, images, videos and activities, as this comes much
closer to teenagers’ normal social behaviour [7]. It can
provide a break in the talking session, keeping the par-
ticipants interested and refreshed. Also, the designer
should act as an equal of the participants, in a non-
confrontational way.
Results, Conclusions and Future Work
We introduced the Co-constructing Stories method, and
a case study where the method was adapted for teen-
agers. The basic structure of the method was kept in-
tact, only specific materials and activities were changed
to fit the user group. It was important for this user
group to see behaviour modelled before they would
freely talk about it, for example with a video clip. Also,
in this case working in a group added a positive group
dynamic. Doing a fun, subject-related activity as part of
the session provided a break in the interview, and fresh
ideas afterwards.
From earlier experiences with interview techniques like
value laddering, it appears as if these techniques lack
the possibilities for empathy and bonding between re-
searcher and participant, required to work with teenag-
ers. Asking a list of questions or repeating ‘why’ ques-
tions, made participants noticeably more reticent and
sometimes even irritated. It did not reveal deep in-
sights. Although it might also be due to the skills of the
interviewer, we believe that in general teenagers do not
like constant probing.
To be able to say that Co-Constructing Stories is a suit-
able research method for working with teenagers, more
research needs to be done on how this method com-
pares to others. Also the effect of different adaptations
of the Co-constructing Stories method should be evalu-
ated more thoroughly.
References
[1] Cialdini R.B. (2001) Influence: Science and prac-
tice. Allyn & Bacon
[2] Marko93, Idir, M. (2007). Paris by Light (video).
youtu.be/mFx-4NT13C4
[3] Ozcelik Buskermolen, D., Terken, J. (2012). Co-
constructing stories: a participatory design tech-
nique to elicit in-depth user feedback and sugges-
tions about design concepts. Proc. PDC ’12
[4] Ozcelik Buskermolen, D., Terken, J., Eggen, B.
(2012). Making Sense of People’s Stories through
Identifying Their Psychological Needs. Proc. CHI’12
[5] Sheldon, K.M., Elliot, A.J., Kim, Y. & Kasse, T.
(2001). What is satisfying about satisfying events?
Testing 10 candidate psychological needs. J Per-
sonality and Social Psychology, 80(2), 325-339.
[6] Sheldon, K.M., Filak, V. (2008). Manipulating
autonomy, competence, and relatedness support in
a game-learning context: New evidence that all
three needs matter. Br J Soc Psychol 47-2: 267-83
[7] Tieben, R., Bekker, M.M., Sturm, J., Schouten,
B.A.M. (2011). Eliciting casual activity through
playful exploration, communication, personalisation
and expression. Proc. CHI-Sparks’11
[8] Zoon, H. (2012). Hanging around (video).
youtu.be/X4Iqzt-rlro
[9] Zoon, H. (2012). LightScribe App student project.
hannazoon.com/20report.pdf
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Making Sense of People's Stories through Identifying Their Psychological Needs
  • Ozcelik Buskermolen
  • D Terken
  • J Eggen
Ozcelik Buskermolen, D., Terken, J., Eggen, B. (2012). Making Sense of People's Stories through Identifying Their Psychological Needs. Proc. CHI'12
LightScribe App student project
  • H Zoon
Zoon, H. (2012). LightScribe App student project. hannazoon.com/20report.pdf