I’ve been looking at the experience sampling method (ESM), taken from Psychology for my research. It’s a technique for gathering both quantitative and qualitative information in-situ, prompting users to respond to a series of questions at certain time intervals. ESM, accredited in its current form to Csikszentmihalyi et al. can be adapted to ubiquitous computing by making use of mobile devices. Consolvo and Walker (2003) write:
“Although ESM is a self-report technique, the no-recall feature reduces the cognitive biases associated with other recall-based self-report techniques such as interviews, traditional surveys, and diaries. Researchers have traditionally used ESM to understand areas such as mood, time use, and social interactions.”
Other advantages of using ESM include the lack of observer bias associated with other in-lab methods. All the information is gathered by the mobile phone, automatically. Additionally, other data can be captured, for example the user’s current location. Some of the problems associated with the technique can be improved with careful balancing of interruption and question complexity. Consolvo and Walker found that the average response rate from participants was 56 out of 70, with the most popular reason being that it was triggered during an inappropriate situation or the alert was missed (beep and vibrate). This highlights that ESM would benefit from alert timing tuning; possibly using sensor methods.
Who knows how to pronounce Csikszentmihalyi? Anyone? That reminds me, I need to get hold of that paper!