Press "Enter" to skip to content

Mapping the Route: How Academic and Programmatic Research Informed New UX Programs Presenters


Robinson, J., Weber, R., and Lanius, L. (2017). Mapping the Route: How Academic and Programmatic Research Informed New UX Programs Presenters. Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication (CPTSC), 2017 Conference Proceedings. Savannah, GA.


This panel discusses how academic and questionnaire data informs the creation of a new Graduate Certificate and BA in User Experience. Joy Robinson begins with the results of a study that explores the multiple disciplinary identities of user experience research. Ryan Weber will address the survey results of potential student interest in UX curriculum. Candice Lanius will talk about how the data from students and researchers informs the curriculum development for programs. This panel advocates that administrators use both scholarly and programmatic research to understand student and disciplinary identities and then create curriculum that helps students prepare to meet industry demands. Using multiple data sources is especially important when developing interdisciplinary programs (like UX) that must attract a wide variety of students and meet the demands of several industries.

Joy Robinson will discuss data from a systematic review of publications retrieved from Google Scholar written within the last 17 years that referenced “user experience” research (Robinson, Lanius, Weber, 2017). For the study, we focused on the disciplinary identity of the field by examining areas that define fields (Rude, 2009) including research questions, methods, and objects of study. Our corpus included publications that spanned across more than 44 different disciplines and in 36 countries highlighting the fragmentation present in the UX field. Furthermore, our study confirms that UX research employs a broad array of methods, pointing to a splintered, highly practical, non-academic focus in the field. These findings will help UX as a field more accurately and broadly conceive of its identity and provide the academy with focused educational objectives for use in our programs as we seek to meet the needs of the growing practice of UX.

Ryan Weber will present data from locally distributed questionnaires designed to gauge interest in two new UX programs. The questionnaires collected demographic data and asked participants about courses they want to take, skills they hope to develop, and what might interest them in a UX education. After presenting the data itself, the speaker will put these questionnaire results in conversation with our academic research on the UX field to provide a richer understanding of the curricular needs of our students. The presentation offers attendees specific data on potential UX students alongside a theoretical discussion of the relationship between programmatic and academic data.

Candice Lanius will show how we create a bridge between existing professional practices and the desires of students even with the challenges of creating a new curriculum in an established college. By taking the data from the UX research project and questionnaire, we were able to mold a new curriculum that incorporates existing classes and crosses multiple departments to achieve the vision of an interdisciplinary UX program. Broadly speaking, our early data collection allowed us to add content modules to existing courses to share the costs of starting the program. We were also able to integrate our research goals with the creative aspects of the curriculum in a well-designed UX lab—the eValuation and User Experience (VUE) lab—that will prepare students for either research or professional settings (Spencer, 2015).

Works Cited:

Robinson, J., Lanius, C., Weber, R. (2017). The Past, Present, and Future of UX Empirical Research. Communication Design Quarterly, 5(3), 10-23.

Rude, C. D. (2009). Mapping the Research Questions in Technical Communication. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 23(2), 174–215.

Spencer, C. (2015). Building your first UX lab: Lessons learnt. Retrieved from