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
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. http://doi.org/10.1177/1050651908329562
Spencer, C. (2015). Building your first UX lab: Lessons learnt. Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/CraigSpencer4/building-your-first-ux-lab-presented-at-gds