Paper on Unexpected Student Behaviour and Learning Opportunities @ Frontiers in Education 2017

This paper was really collaborative work, and the analysis was a joint effort with many great minds. We had many good meetings about the paper before we wrote it up, and the different authors contributed with their expertise.

The paper abstract: 

“One of the challenges in being a teacher is to set up an educational setting where the students receive relevant learning opportunities for the specific course, the students’ education in general, and for their future. However, efforts to create such educational settings do not always work in the way that faculty has intended. In this paper we investigate one such effort seen from a critical incident perspective. Central to the analysis in this paper is how the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) can provide explanations for the incident. The critical incident can be summarised as students refusing to take part in a non-compulsory, but from the faculty perspective highly educational, activity. We describe the incident in depth, give thebackground for the educational intervention, and analyse the incident from the perspective of TPB. This paper makes two major contributions to engineering education research. The first is the development of a method for analysing critical teaching and learning incidents using the TPB. The critical incident analysisillustrates how the method is used to analyse and reason about the students’ behaviour. Another contribution is the development of a range of insights which deal with challenges raised by Learning interventions, especially those involved with acquiring hidden or ”invisible skills” not usually seen or acknowledged by students to belong to core subject area of a degree program.”

The idea to make use of theories on behavior to understand students came from Hadadgar’s PhD thesis that I examined a few months ago (about physicians, learning and antibiotics)

Jonas Moll has written more about the papers that we got accepted. You find his blog post here. It’s a recommended read!

Visit at the University of Pretoria – Now My Research Batteries are Fully Charged Again with Inspiration:-)

My visit to the University of Pretoria was really great.

I am so happy I took the time to do this despite a full calendar!

I met Helene Gelderblom and her research group “UX in South Africa”.  They do research related to establishment of UX in organizations. This is indeed very related to the large majority of my research projects. See for example the blog posts on the SISU project and the blog post describing my PhD.

The whole visit was very well organized, and I had meetings with very many interesting people about their research in my areas such as research on eHealh, professional competencies, management and IT and why UX is not included in software development.

During the week, I did a seminar in one of their courses, see previous blog post. I also did an open seminar for the whole department, and participated in a workshop where we discussed their research studies. There were indeed many extremely relevant and interesting studies presented. I was impressed with the depth and quality of their work! This gave me inspiration, and also motivating to continue doing research in this area!! My research batteries are now fully charged again J

I also helped some with reviewing an application for funding. If funded the project would create a platform for their UX in South Africa work, including funding for traveling etc. I really hope that they are funded! They are so worth it given their ambitions and the quality of their work!

The visit resulted in a plan for a journal publication and trying to edit a special issue on our topic.

This weekend we also went on a safari together. The elephant experience was really something special. We go to see wild elephants just two meters away. Such an amazing experience!

UCD Blog 1: IT Projects are Seldom Successful, and IT for Work is Problematic 

The last few weeks I have done lectures related to IT and UCD in different organisations.  I will do a blog series about these lectures, and I will also write some words about the different aspects that have been discussed in these seminars. I start out by saying a few words abou the situation with IT projects and the quality of IT systems.

Many investigations conclude that a majority of IT projects fail and do not deliver on time, on budget and with a satisfactory result. According to the Standish group’s definition of success only around 30 % of all IT projects are successful. This means that around 70% of all IT projects deliver too late, with low quality or with unsatisfactory results. These numbers are really horrible!

If one look at the computer systems for work, the problems are obvious and enormous. This is for example reflected in the organisation Unionen’s reports on digital work environment for white collar workers in Sweden.  These reports are based on surveys to employees that are members of the union named Unionen. They are named in the following way (translated from Swedish), and I let the titles speak for themselves:

2008: Why does not it get any better ?
2010: A system error ?
2011: Always Connected – Never Relaxed.
2012: One step ahead and two steps back.
2014:- No Lighting in sight.

The IT systems in health care do not work any better, as can be discvovered when reading any newspaper. The headlines in the photo to this blog post show some of the recent ones that I could find, and here you see some of the problems in the headlines:

X-ray Care has Large Problems Due to New IT system

Mapping shows: Non-stable IT support in ambulance care

Windows update reason for enormous breakdown at the hospitals in Uppsala

Stockholm cleans up among health care systems – investing 200 millions

UX and Agile at the University of Pretoria

Last week I did a lecture at the University of Pretoria where I am visiting this week. There were about 45 students who were really active and interested. I started out the lecture by presenting myself, and then asked them what they knew about UX and Agile. They used Mentimeter when answering the questions, and the distribution revealed that they thought they had moderate to little knowledge. I hope that they know some more about the topic after the lecture 🙂

UX agile mentimeter

I presented some of the work that Marta Larusdotter and I have done and discussed some of the different ways UX work can be integrated in Agile.

We finished the seminar with a role play exercise where they got to dicsuss the different opionions one can meet when working with UX in Agile. When asked what they thought interesting about the excercise most of them said that it was interesting that all opinions about UX and Agile can have valid arguments, event though the opinion in itself is odd.

It was a very intelligent and promising group of students. And I really enjoyed meeting them!



Recruitment of an HTO Action Research Member

Our group is expanding and during the last weeks Jonas Moll and I have worked with the applications for the post doc position that we annonced in two action research projects: The “Digital work environment and Ehealth project”  that we have with Region Uppsala and the “Envisioning Business Administration Project” that we have with the university administration of Uppsala University. 

Working as an action reseracher in these projects requires a skilled and social reseracher who wants to work in collaboration with organisations related to the design and development of IT systems for work. We also want someone who has experience in doing reserach in either or both of these settings, and preferably someone who contributes to the diversity of the group. Unfortunately we need someone who speaks Swedish which makes it a bit difficult.

Jonas Moll and I have worked in a very structured way with assessment of the applications. First we developed an assessment rubrics based on the advertisment text, and we then worked both separately and collaborately.

The following weeks we will do interviews with candidates, and for this we have made use of a good material from Lund University on recrutiment of PhD students. We have adapted the matieral to our context, and now we are ready for interviews. We will also make sure that the candidates will meet other mambers of the HTO group to get a better grip of the work environment.

I’ll keep you posted about what happens!


Visiting University of Pretoria to Work on User Centred Design

This week I have been invited to visit the University of Pretoria, and a Human-computer interaction research group there. I am invited by professor Helene Gelderblom to discuss and collaborate around user-centred design approaches, and my husband is invited to discuss his resarch in comptuer science education.

During our stay in Pretoria I will give two seminars, participate in a workshop, discuss a a grant proposal and also work on a common publication. It will be a busy week, and I am really looking forward to this  🙂 .

Professor Helene Gelderblom has also arranged for us to go on a safari trip one day during the weekend. That will be really great fun! I’ve never been to a safari trip!

UX Fail and Customer Service

A week ago I lost my UL card that I use for commuting to work. Luckily it was possible to block it on the UL web page. So I did. It said that they would send a new card within five days. So far so good.

However, five days passed, and today I went to the UL office to ask what had happened.

The person at the desk said to me that I had probably forgotten to ask for a new card after I had blocked the old card. This is a very common thing that people very often missed.

He said:

Many customers don’t do this the right way! They miss that you need to do it in two separate steps. First block the card, and then order a new card. The second step is very much further down on the screen way, way past all the other information.

He then showed me on my screen. After I have blocked my card I need to scroll down around one full screen of empty space to an icon of a man with a text. If you click the text on this icon (non-visible and I didn’t even find it when he showed it) you get a form where you can ask for a new UL card.

I said that this was really a hidden icon and scrolling was completely non-intuitive in the design. One could even say that it was really a hidden part of the web page.

He said I was wrong, and that the design was made for a proper big screen, not my Mac-book ( 15”) and not for the screen that he used at the UL counter work either. The screen to use was a much bigger screen than these two, and the system worked perfectly if you used it with the screen it was intended for. I said that my 15” computer is quite a standard laptop, and that designs should be made for many kinds of devices and screens nowadays.  He didn’t answer but looked a bit embarassed.

I tried to say to him that this was not me being stupid, and that this is really bad UX design. He looked a bit puzzled.

I then asked him if he could give me a new UL card straight away instead of me ordering one at the web page and wait another five days. Of course, this was not possible, and I need to pay extra ticket to get home, and wait another five days for my card.  He did not know if the 30 day ticket that I had on he card would be put on hold during these days, or if I simply lost 10 days from the 30 days.

Please UL and other service organizations:

  • If many customers do the same wrong thing, it is a sign of bad UX design. It is not a sign of lots of incompetent customers.
  • People use many kinds of devices, and you should design for this. There are no excuses!
  • If the UX design is so crappy that normal people don’t understand it, and you cannot do anything about it, then you need to have a good service design around it. Do not make the customer pay extra tickets in situations caused by bad UX design like this one.
  • Do something about the UX of your web page if it is a disaster!

Visiting Robert Gordon University and Roger McDermott

Roger McDermott is really an excellent and inspirint researcher. We have done some very interesting papers together, and this week I am visiting Robert Gordon together with Mats Daniels for writing papers in the area of comptuer science education.

A recent paper of ours explores a framework for writing learning agreements. This paper is a recommended read for those who are interested in the development of interdisciplinary teamwork skills. The paper is found here.

We have also written papers about students and how they envision the future of student adminstration, found in this blog post 

Other papers we have written are related to grit and personality, see this  blog post exploring the mind set of yet.

I am very much looking forward to some very productive days in Aberdeen. 🙂


Assessment of the Research Environment at Our Department – KoF 2017

Uppsala University is currently undergoing an assessment related to the research environment called KoF17. At our department a panel consisting of computer scientists and mathematicians were at the department and interviewed us for two days. I participated in two of the sessions. In this work I represented our work with gender equality, and as an expert of our administrative IT systems.

The task of the experts in the Kof 17 panel is to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of our research community at the department. And to make recommendations for how we should develop it.  The KoF17 assessment is the third self-initiated evaluation conducted by Uppsala University, the former were 2007 and 2011. This time the goal was to give constructive collegial feedback. This means agood advice so we can develop and become even better. Kof17 includes for example reflection on the link between research and education, as well as between research and collaboration.

The vice chancellor of the university blogs about this event here

It was really an interesting event, and some of the things i learned more about are:

  • There are indeed different academic cultures in different countries.
  • People have surprisingly different opinions on what is good and what is quality.
  • The process in itself was indeed a learning experience, and our head of reserach Gunilla Kreiss did a great job in putting everything together for us.


I Found the Pomodoro Technique And it is Great!

Summer is approaching quickly. We all have deadlines in their calendars for papers, reports and other work. This is really great, and I really love reading and writing. But somehow I seldom get time to really dig into things nowadays. However, this week I tried a very simple technique that I strongly recommend:

The Pomodoro Technique 

For some of you this is nothing new, but for others this might help you as much as it has helped me. I have understood that this is a very popular time management technique.

The main idea behind the technique is to work with full attention on one thing only for a period of time (I have chosen 18 min). It’s a kind of very short sprint. After this I get a break and do other things such as fetching coffee or sending an sms to my kids, for around 3-5 min. Then I start another session with full concentration using a simple alarm clock on my iPhone.  A Pomodoro is a tomato shaped alarm clock.

This is how Pomodoro is done:

  1. Choose a task that you want to work on
  2. Set the alarm clock to 18-25 min
  3. Work on your task until the alarm clock rings
  4. Take a short break

Results from using this technique:  

  • My productivity has really improved.
  • I feel more satisfied with my work.
  • My stress level has gone down enormously.
  • I work with one thing at the time despite the list with 20 other things I should do.

Thank you, Marta, and Christiane for mentioning Pomodoro to me!

Btw: writing this was one Pomodoro…. 🙂