Interviews, Focus Groups, and Surveys

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HumanEra @ UHN & IFMBE Clinical Engineering Division
Data collection through observation yields rich information about how people do things, but this insight only provides part of the story. It is also important to understand why a system has been set up, or things are being done, in a particular way. Understanding why from the subject’s perspective helps to prevent you, the observer, from introducing bias by assigning your own assumptions to something you have observed. It is also important to help you learn about people’s mental models, preferences, and knowledge, in the context of technology use. Sometimes observations do result in an understanding of why the system functions as it does; namely, if you have the time and freedom to talk with, and ask questions of the people you are shadowing. However, in reality this is usually difficult because those being observed are busy, with little time to answer questions at length. This is why it is a good idea to plan to collect data in a number of ways, from multiple subjects, including using methods like interviews, focus groups, and surveys.