Thus far in the research process, I have solidified the mobile applications that will be used in the actual student groups for testing. It was important to find 3 applications that would all be similar in terms of their functionality, yet different in their design of catering to the functionality. This way there is a basis for testing all of the apps against each other, but there are clear differentiators in the apps to the test subjects who will be rating the apps. The test will involve measuring how the different apps could help with the productivity of students with disabilities from AHRC. The three apps are all organizational calendar memo apps that a student with disabilities could use to independently keep track of school assignments and tasks.
The second phase of this research process is to create a test sheet that the AHRC students will fill out when reviewing the 3 selected mobile applications for the experiment. Also, the population that will be used for the test will be AHRC students who are familiar with using mobile applications. It is necessary for the test subjects are familiar with using a mobile application so that the test results are not skewed because of lack of user knowledge, but all of the functionality is tested against the app design itself. The control in this experiment will be the regular calendar app found on an iOS device. One group of students will only use the iOS calendar app so that there will be a basis to determine if the productivity of the AHRC students increased or decreased with the 3 other test applications.
Creating the test sheet has required researching the different categories typically associated with productivity testing in mobile applications. Also, there needs to be a minimum of three sources to back up each test point so that there can be significant evidence of the need to test against those points. For example, one of the test points that I have been research is “ease of use”, or how straightforward the navigation of the app is to the user. This test point is found in over 90% of the research that I have been finding because it is so crucial to judging the productivity effect on the user of the app. However, because this productivity measure specifically deals with a population of students with disabilities, the “ease of use” category cannot just solely be based upon simple navigation, but must also include clarity of action, text size, sounds alerts, etc. All of these features are important, if not more important, than just the app work flow.
Overall, I am still in the design phase of the experiment and after returning from break I will start to conduct the experiment with the AHRC students to receive some preliminary feedback on the test sheet and applications. Then a formal experiment will be conducted with a control group and then 3 test groups against the independent variable of the mobile application. Further question that I have are what percentage of the disabilities population uses a mobile app regularly to track their productivity? Additionally, is there a standard for mobile applications specifically designed for use of people with disabilities? The AHRC student that I am working with as a subject matter expert for this experiment has been very helpful for giving insight as to the types of problems that students with disabilities face in a university setting. This particular student has also been crucial in helping to design the test sheets so that they are in a way that all AHRC students can universally understand. Work still to be done would be completing all of the research on the test points for the sheets that will be used by the test subjects. I am excited to continue researching and start to work with other AHRC students.