Qualitative research methods workshop

Over several decades, HCI has grown from a sub-field drawing heavily from the quantitative tradition of cognitive science, to an independent research area encapsulating very diverse research methodologies.  Today, the human side of HCI is an exciting blend of communication theory, social sciences, cognitive psychology, anthropology, etc. Therefore, a range of qualitative methods have been borrowed and adopted to study human interactions with machines.  Understanding qualitative methods is therefore very valuable in HCI research, as we are increasingly interested in complex socio-technical contexts where technologies are used.

Unlike the social sciences, qualitative research in HCI often aims to uncover issues which will hopefully lead to practical designs and implementations.  Hence, a lot of the standard social sciences qualitative methods textbooks or learning materials might not be directly useful. In this workshop, we will look into qualitative methods in the context of HCI research. Specifically, the learning outcomes of the workshop are:

  • To understand and appreciate the advantages and disadvantages of qualitative methods in HCI
  • To be able to read, interpret and synthesis qualitative research results published in HCI journals and conferences
  • To gain practical skills in systematic analysis of qualitative data, and inform design with the research outcomes

The topics covered by the workshop:

  • Case studies of the use of qualitative methods in HCI research
  • Data analysis methods, focusing mainly on thematic analysis and content analysis
  • Practical issues on writing the methodology and results section of qualitative studies


  • Siriaraya, P., & Ang, C. S. (2014, April). Recreating living experiences from past memories through virtual worlds for people with dementia. InProceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 3977-3986). ACM.
  • Lee, M. K., Kiesler, S., Forlizzi, J., & Rybski, P. (2012, May). Ripple effects of an embedded social agent: a field study of a social robot in the workplace. InProceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 695-704). ACM.
  • Jamison-Powell, S., Linehan, C., Daley, L., Garbett, A., & Lawson, S. (2012, May). I can’t get no sleep: discussing# insomnia on twitter. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (pp. 1501-1510). ACM.
  • Odom, William, et al. “Passing on & putting to rest: understanding bereavement in the context of interactive technologies.” Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human Factors in computing systems. ACM, 2010.