Experience Sample / Diary Study

Skill theme: 
Interview Planning & Execution
Interview Planning & Execution

With a well-formed Study Plan and Participant Coordination & Recruiting, gather data over time through longer-term engagement with participants.

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The challenge

Some behaviors and contextual backgrounds present larger time scales than can be captured in a single interview. As self-report is not a reliable indicator of real behavior, you need alternative methods to collect information about participant behaviors as close to the time-and-context of interest as possible.

To actively gather this data over time with a single participant is an invasive act that must be balanced with participant control over their involvement and the information they are willing to contribute.

The approach

Consider how you can understand how a participants' experience evolves by asking them to actively contribute to the study over time. You can create studies that will allow participants to respond to a prompt, answer a question, or record information on specific conditions or time intervals. Use flexible input formats that align with participants’ behaviors and context of interest—SMS, email, survey forms, photo snapshots, printed worksheets—whatever will give you the best read of that behavior over time.

Therefore, run longitudinal or sampling studies on a cadence most aligned with the behavior in question. Identify the best method to collect observations that is comfortable and simple for your participant: structured data collection forms, email, text messaging, phone calls, photo diaries, or video clips. Set clear expectations with participants for what it means to be involved in the study, and their time expectations throughout each major milestone. Review the data as it comes in and hold interpretation interviews with participants to discuss patterns at the end of the study.

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Throughout the study, ensure healthy Data Capture the participant is comfortable with. As you receive waves of data from participants, run modified Interview Debrief as appropriate to consolidate your impressions, and continually make an effort to maintain project hygiene with Well-Managed Data. Plan with participants for a User Interview, or series of them, throughout the course of the study. Add observations to Data Wall, sketch emerging candidates for Conceptual Model, and be prepared for Sensemaking Workshop as the study approaches an end.

Last updated:
Apr 26, 2020 19:16


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