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Designing with Care: Adapting Cultural Probes to Inform Design in Sensitive Settings

Authors:
  • Professor, School of Computer Science, University of Nottingham

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We report on the methodological process of developing computer support for former psychiatric patients living in residential care settings, for older members of the community, and disabled people living at home. Methods for identifying user needs in such sensitive settings are underdeveloped and the situation presents a very complex set of design challenges. In particular, the highly personal character of such settings presents conventional observational techniques, such as ethnography, with obdurate problems that make direct observation intrusive, disruptive and inappropriate on occasion. Direct observation requires supplementation in sensitive settings. Accordingly, we report on our experiences of adapting Cultural Probes to explore care settings, to develop a design dialogue with participants, and to gather information about their unique needs.
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... Human centred approaches to general healthcare design include: design ethnography to inspire and inform design creation (Gordon, 2014;Hirsch et al, 2000), mixed methods research with ethnographic design to inform further ethnographic research approaches for healthcare (Crabtree et al 2003;Xue, 2009), human computer interaction design and user design research for healthcare (Cafazzo et al, 2012;Park, 2016). Author"s voices in these works converge in a resounding need for further human centred fieldwork in healthcare design development (Crabtree, 2003, p1;Hirsch et al, 2000, p 2), and this call for a human centred focus extends into female healthcare design (Xue, 2009;Marques et al, 2010). ...
... This method will be described in the methodology chapter. Exploratory methods should remain sensitive to respondents and reflexive to the project it seeks to inform (Crabtree et al, 2003). For this project, the lack of PFX conducted by pregnant and postnatal women has been identified as a social and cultural issue or a wicked problem. ...
... Time is a broadly accepted issue encountered in ethnographic fieldwork often due to the time taken in gaining ethics approval and the issues of time related to the unpredictable nature of fieldwork (Savage, 2000, p.2-4). A weakness of probes in general is that sometimes they may not be returned or completed (Crabtree et al, 2003;Hirsch et al, 2000). In this instance out of the twenty probes sent we had just six responses, the response rates varied from within the same day to a matter of months later. ...
Thesis
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Pelvic floor exercises are an important practice in the prevention and resolution of pelvic floor disorder. However, pelvic floor exercises are often not practiced regularly or correctly which puts women at high risk of experiencing pelvic floor disorder symptoms. These symptoms are debilitating in terms of physical and mental health, and when ignored can worsen over time. In particular, pregnant and postnatal women are at the most risk of this disorder and still do not practice the exercises as required. This study identifies the lack of correct and regular exercises being practiced as a complex social and cultural issue which is best explored with ethnographic design research. The use of semi structured interviews, narrative analysis and informational probes enabled an open ended exploration of pregnant and postnatal women"s experiences with learning and practicing pelvic floor exercises. Health professionals experience with teaching pelvic floor exercises has also been explored and findings have shown that to assist regular and correct exercise there is a need for professional diagnosis and guidance, suitable to each women"s health, lifestyle, and way of learning. Themes in the findings included; Safety and Professional Support, Teaching PFX with Metaphor, Integrating PFX into Daily Life and Device Concerns and Feedback. Design recommendations which correspond to each of these themes were formed. Discussion of these findings using background literature also gave crucial context to this study, underscoring overarching key themes of education and empowerment which future pelvic floor exercise designs should embrace. Finally, this study addresses the strengths and weaknesses of an ethnographic design research approach in informing the development of future designs and systems for healthcare, and opens spaces for future work.
... Action research always seeks to find solutions to the dominant challenges facing the people. Therefore, any participatory action learning and action research aimed at working with Africans to solve challenges, need to carefully consider user sensitivity as suggested by Crabtree et al. (2003) and Gaver et al. (2004). This is because the sole reliance on observation in ethnographic studies conducted in Africa may not be completely effective. ...
... For instance, a few researchers may conceive that the success of the concept of "ludic pursuits" that emerged from Gaver and colleagues' "Presence Project" can work elsewhere, especially in Africa. Crabtree et al. (2003) have quoted Gaver et al. (1999) as having introduced the concept of "ludic pursuits" to draw attention to the so-called "playful" character of human life. It is said to imply the notion of "playfulness" in the highly personal and diverse ways in which people tend to "explore, wonder, love, worship, and waste time" together and in some other ways engage in activities which they consider as "meaningful and valuable" (Gaver, 2001). ...
Article
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The epistemological positioning that frequently validates the application of cultural probes in eliciting detailed exploration of phenomenon has not been sufficiently interrogated. Yet the epistemological assumptions behind the value of cultural probes continue to be drummed up and foisted on Africa’s emerging ethnographic researchers who actually need to be a bit more critical in its adoption and application. This conceptual paper explores the extant literature on data collection based essentially on cultural probes as espoused in habitus. It is proposed that profound amounts of decolonization of the spirit, content, and process of data gathering is urgent and critical at this stage. Until this is done objectively, African ethnographic researchers should “look at the gift horse in the mouth” before they can properly configure what is right or wrong for the people of Africa who should be in the hot pursuit of the ownership, production and utilization of relevant and sacrosanct knowledge aimed at rapid socio-economic and political development of the continent.
... Note that within our workshop, we do acknowledge that it can be difficult for participants to be able to analyse how certain crowdsourcing designs might be affecting Latin America and design adequate solutions, especially if these individuals are not from the region or familiar with the related culture [12,49]. For this purpose, we will include workshop activities where we help participants to adopt the "circuit of culture framework" [18]. ...
... Subsequently, a new scholarly turn surfaced as technological development increased. When technologies become ubiquitous within the home, research followed the trend by moving beyond work settings to investigate the use of technology in domestic settings, such as video calls at home between family and friends (e.g., de Fornel, 1994;Crabtree et al., 2003;Relieu, 2007;Licoppe & Morel, 2012;Licoppe, 2017;Sunakawa, 2012). However, there exist significant challenges for the video recording of such calls in intimate settings. ...
Article
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Studies have shown that multisensorial interactions are an important medium for achieving love and intimacy. Nevertheless, the question remains: How do people constitute their “love at a distance” when they can only interact with each other over a video call, in which certain sensorial resources (e.g., touch, smell, and taste) are not available? Drawing from two years of video-based fieldwork involving recordings of habitual calls among the members of migrant families, I consider the application of Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis (EMCA)-informed video analysis to investigating intimate relationships constructed through remote means. I present an innovative method of video recording that allows me to analyze the interactional resources toward which participants orient themselves in their calls. I illustrate this approach with data analysis to demonstrate the relevance of video to examining intimacy at a distance. This article proposes that a distinct contribution of video-based research to the discipline lies in its ability to capture how people use their embodied and sensorial interactions to form intimacy across distances.
... Text probes were sent periodically through these two weeks to gain in-situ qualitative contextual data on current practices, minimising the impact of recall difficulties during interviews (Thoring et al., 2013). The text probe method is a combination of cultural probe methods developed in the past two decades that require participants to take photos of objects during their daily life with a disposable camera (Crabtree et al., 2003;Gaver et al., 1999;Thoring et al., 2013). The advent of mobile phones has allowed a significant advancement in this method. ...
Chapter
Design and HCI researchers are increasingly exploring sensitive topics. Despite attempts to involve participants to better understanding their needs, it remains challenging for researchers to elicit information from vulnerable participants. To involve marginalized voices in participatory design, we need to search beyond traditional research tools. We propose a Self-Reflection Doll, a generative tool that aims at helping participants overcome psychological barriers to share emotionally sensitive experiences during participatory design research. To examine the feasibility and benefits of the new method, a comparative case study on the topic of burnout syndrome was conducted using the Self-Reflection Doll in comparison with Focus Group and Cultural Probe. The paper discusses the strengths of the new generative tool in making participants feel more at ease to disclose personal stories and eliciting both implicit and explicit information for design research regarding Burnout Syndrome and other sensitive topics.KeywordsSensitive topicsParticipatory designDoll-based designSelf-disclosureBurnout syndrome
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Research diaries as a qualitative method are found practical in information science. In information behavior literature, they are effective for capturing human experience and thought in situ in emic view. Although previous scholars undertook research diaries to explore information needs, seeking, use, and more, what is left relatively unknown is how this method may garner diverse forms of data beyond text when studying inherently dynamic information creation. To address this gap, this study applied research diaries inspired by cultural probes and maker documentation to investigate the making process of 25 arts and crafts hobbyists. Findings present a wide variety of entries generated from participants, illuminating the benefits of using research diaries to facilitate making and encourage reflection. Design implications are shared to unlock the potential of research diaries for examining information behavior, demonstrating their value in gathering rich empirical data and bringing participants engaging research experiences.
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