[Research] Examining mobile activities with quasi-experimentation

V. Roto, A. Oulasvirta, T. Haikarainen, J. Kuorelahti, H. Lehmuskallio, and T. Nyyssonen, Examining Mobile Phone Use in the Wild with Quasi-Experimentation (.pdf). HIIT Technical Report 2004-1, August 13, 2004.

While increasingly better tools are available for examining human-computer interaction in a laboratory environment, we are only just starting to develop the methods and appropriate portable equipment within the mobile context. One problematic issue has been that current methods are not suited for attempting to establish causal relationships between context variables and interaction. In this paper we describe an experimental method, called quasiexperiment, and apparatus for recording mobile phone usage and the environment in a mobile context. Quasi-experimentation is based on 1) the best possible control over nuisance variables in the mobile test environment and 2) recordings of the user, interaction with the device, and the environment. It requires changes in the way we design, prepare, implement, and analyze interaction experiments. We learned that conducting a quasi-experiment is laborious without special tools that would decrease the amount of manual work. Quasiexperimentation is a promising investigation and evaluation methodology for the developers of mobile computing systems and applications.