Shivers-McNair et al. – User-Centered Design In and Beyond the Classroom

Shivers-McNair, A., et al. (2018). “User-Centered Design In and Beyond the Classroom: Toward an Accountable Practice.” Computers and Composition 49: 36-47.

               The authors, an instructor and students, describe our practice of user-centered design on three levels: in the design and structure of an advanced undergraduate course in which we all participated, in student projects designed during the course, and in our reflections on the course presented here. We argue that principles of user-centered design can and should be more than course concepts and assignments; they can be core practices of the course that hold both students and teachers accountable for the impacts of their rhetorical choices. We offer a model for other teacher-scholars looking to involve students in the design of their courses and in writing together about their work.

  • Process for discussing and demonstrating a collaborative approach to designing and redesigning for usability: 1) define local context & terms; 2) articulate collaborative knowledge-making process vis-à-vis participatory usability study; and 3) distill findings and offer recommendations for implementing participatory UCD principles & practices in their teaching/writing (36). They used UCD to design the course but also to redesign it after the course was over.
  • Authors make use of the empathize/ideate/prototype/rest/refine model from Design Thinking (37).
  • To get away from the singular focus on the singular, the authors note that, “In our course and in our collaboration, we take up UCD practices with a rhetorical, culturally responsive, participatory focus on users” (38).
  • Authors placed emphasis on the ongoing engagement with your users during testing instead of the testing procedures themselves.
  • Goal: “an approach to UCD in a composition course that attempts to integrate UCD not only as course concepts and strategies for student projects, but also as a principle for designing and redesigning pedagogy. In other words, we hope that others can and will take up and improve not only the assignments and activities we describe, but also our collaborative process of analyzing our experiences and (re) designing the course to me more usable and useful” (45).

Key Sources:

  • Shivers-McNair, Ann, & San Diego, Clarissa. (2017). Localizing communities, goals, communication, and inclusion: A collaborative approach. Technical Communication, 64(2), 97–112.
  • Miller-Cochran, Susan K., & Rodrigo, Rochelle L. (2009). Rhetorically rethinking usability: Theories, practices, methodologies. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.