The paper that Lisa Graham recently presented at GROUP 2016 was the culmination of her MSc work. I’m really proud of her work on that project, because it was a very difficult study to run, but she was nevertheless able to complete the study and analyze the data with an interesting set of results.
The context for Lisa’s work is that we are increasingly able to track and monitor person data in a wide variety of contexts. Our watches are able to track the steps we take, while other tools help us to monitor and track exercise and fiteness goals, while still others can track our spending habits and so forth. With all this data though, the problem is that most people do not know how to analyze the data in order to generate generate meaningful, actionable insights. That is, we have all this data, but we don’t know what to do with it.
Lisa’s project focused on trying to jump start this reflection process, and it does so by leveraging other people. The basic idea for the project comes from the observation that, “It is often easier to see flaws in someone else’s essay than in one’s own essays.” Similarly, our hope was that it was easy to find new ideas for exploration while looking at someone else’s data than when looking at one’s own data.
Lisa’s study was set up in such a way that people would go through several weeks of personal data collection (on whatever data they were interested in collecting) in cohorts. Within this cohort, on a weekly basis, they would be asked to review someone else’s data (within the cohort), and return that review to the owner. Our thinking was that this review activity would have two different effects: (1) first, one would get new ideas about one’s own data (from someone else) – a new perspective, perhaps; (2) second, based on review of someone else’s data, one would be able to see one’s own data from a new, fresh perspective. (This is the basic idea behind “peer evaluation” in teaching/learning circles.)
In the end, we definitely saw both of these effects, where people:
And while this process seems promising, the major challenge with itt is that process-wise, it is very difficult to execute. Lisa had a hard time recruiting participants, and then ensuring that they stayed on task for the duration of the study. Nevertheless, the approach shows promise that is worth investigating further.