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University of Michigan School of Information


Research seminar in information

SI 710-047 - Erin Krupka

Social forces – particularly identity and personal narratives around those identities – are central in shaping what we choose to do. Thus, a person’s identity–one’s conception of who I am, of who I choose to be, the limits placed by society on who I get to be – may be the most important factor affecting behavior and certainly determining well-being.

In this course, we will trace the arc of thinking on this topic and identify open questions (future research) in this area. Prof. Krupka will begin with Initial readings that stem from Psychology and Economics. However, students will have a hand in curating additional readings from other disciplines and cultivating a *personalized* reading sub-list (5-6 papers) for a discipline or community of their choosing.

But there’s more! Throughout, we will also work on the skill of “how to ask a research question”. Prof. Krupka will talk about skills and techniques for generating research questions and we will practice this skill using these readings as our “practice arena”. We will also focus on skills and techniques for how to write compelling introductions!

Our main objective will be to trace out the evolution of theories of identity as well as the methods associated with measuring theoretical constructs associated with identity and personal narrative. Our second objective will be to learn the skills and techniques of characterizing what types of insights can be gained from such theories, the emerging techniques (experimental, non-experimental), emerging themes (such as narrative construction) as well as open questions ripe for future work. The latter are associated with formulating research questions and with writing powerful introductions for papers that get published and cited!


SI 710-088 - Tawanna Dillahunt

Researchers and designers from computational fields are beginning to understand how the complexity of systemic, structural, and historical circumstances affecting communities (e.g., poverty, illiteracy, and geographical isolation) shape the design process. For example, participatory design (PD) and community-based participatory research (CBPR) have been heavily used in HCI to design with underserved communities. However, there is an opportunity for HCI researchers and practitioners in related fields to improve their use of these methods to account for circumstances that may impact participants’ engagement (or lack thereof) in the design process.

This seminar will examine methods used in empirical research studies that focus on designing or researching computational technologies with or for people from underserved communities (e.g., empirical studies from IS-related fields such as HCI and CSCW). We will analyze how principles of PD and CBPR are applied to these studies. This course will provide you with a critical understanding of established or perhaps unestablished research design methods, which support the creation and evaluation of ICT systems and services that would be inclusive and beneficial to a broad range of users.

As a class, we will contribute a framework, or model for understanding how to use specific research methods and when, and the strengths and weaknesses of each method. The research methods investigated will not be fully comprehensive—these methods will be derived from a survey of related research provided by the instructor and also based on students’ current research and research interests.

Those of you who have formulated a few focused research questions, intend to engage with populations who may be marginalized or understudied in your area of focus, and have considered the use of methods described above are encouraged to enroll and would most benefit. An ideal outcome from this class is a well-formed proposal that you can execute over the summer and/or submit to an agency for funding. A key course goal is to create opportunities for you to refine your method/approach. ​Feel free to use this class as an opportunity to pilot new methods and discuss their outcomes. Ultimately, I’d like for you to walk away with an opportunity to publish your findings to your venue of choice.