Klein, G., Calderwood, R., Macgregor, D. Critical Decision Method for Eliciting Knowledge. IEEE Transaction on System, Man, and Cybernetics, vol 19, no 3, (1989)

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Klein et al.’s paper describes an interview method that focuses on non-routine events. The method has been developed for studying decision making but it seems to be potentially applicable to UCD/HCI also.

The core idea of the method is to go through the same event multiple times with the interviewee. The paper suggests four rounds:

  1. unstructured account of the event
    The interviewee describes the event whit his/her own words
  2. timeline of the event
    Timeline of the event is constructed in collaboration between interviewee and interviewer. The timeline includes all the phases (sequence and duration) of the event.
  3. decision point identification
    Decision points, i.e. phases and places where decisions were made during the event are identified.
  4. deeper decision point analysis
    Understanding of the decisions and decision points are deepened by asking additional questions (article uses term: cognitive probes) such as “what did you see during…” or “what information did you use…” or “what where your specific goals in this time…”.


Posted by Petri

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