Informational needs of MS-HCI students

A research project to investigate the informational needs of MS-HCI students at Georgia Tech


Background

Students in the HCI Master's program at Georgia Tech, have very diverse and dense informational needs right from the time they consider applying to the program and until and after their graduation. We took a closer look at this space to identify and address any issues, based on the following prompt.
"MS-HCI Students have information needs specific to the program, areas of study, career preparation, etc. Also need to communicate with each other.
Need a resource that can be considered the “one-stop shop” (or close to it) to minimize the number of resources that need to used to convey this info.
Needs to be available across platforms, but definitely mobile focused."



Research Questions

What are the information needs in the MS HCI program?
Currently, Is there a gap in the availability of information?
if yes, Why is there a gap?
How can we address the gaps in locating information?
Is there really a need for a one stop location that students can connect to for all of their information?

Process

In order to investigate this problem space, we first sought the help of existing literature in the area of informational needs. After getting a little bit more familiar with the domain of information seeking and gathering behaviors, we wanted to get the users involved. For this purpose we conducted 11 semi-structred interviews.<.br> The interviews each lasted about half an hour and notes were taken during the interviews. Interview participants were from both the first and second year MS-HCI student pool.
In order to understand and analyze the data that we collected, we resorted to 3 rounds of affinity mapping. Based on what we learnt from the interviews, we designed a 11-question survey that was hosted online and made available to the MS-HCI student pool.
We collected 27 responses
which we later analyzed and assimiliated as insights informing the design of a solution.


Findings and implication

Through our user research, we actually found that students do not actually need a new one-stop shop solution to address all their information needs. What we did find, on the other hand, was that a good majority of students did have difficulty with finding information about courses being offered and keeping track of their degree progress.
So, we took this finding forward and proposed a solution comprising of some core functionalities that would directly address the gaps that we found through our research.
Following are a couple of low-fidelity paper sketches, to demonstrate the idea.