Portfolio: Engineering Statics Evaluation

As HCI consultant for the Open Learning Initiative at Carnegie Mellon I conducted usability studies for a variety of online learning technologies. The following is an example of one such study I conducted with Bill Jerome. This was an early stage usability evaluation intended to provide developers of a course in Engineering Statics early feedback on the usability of interactive flash-based demonstrations and problem sets, along with their corresponding text.


We initially conducted heuristic evaluations of the interfaces. Following this, we recruited students with a background in physics for think-aloud user tests. In order to motivate students, they were given a short test after using the materials, and told that their scores would contribute to their final compensation.

Sample Findings

We discovered reading patterns that did not match the design of the learning materials. For instance, students often first viewed the multimedia elements, which as initially created depended on the surrounding text. Recommendations were made for integrating this information with the widgets. We also found that students often could not distinguish between interactive and non-interactive multimedia widgets, and made recommendations regarding how to consistently represent interactivity.

Further Information:
For more information on this usability study, please see our full report.


Learning Module
Page from the Engineering Statics course
OLI Courses include text and interactive elements.
Sample Image
Example of Statics interactive element
Images and interactive devices from the Statics course can have a variety of confusing parts.