After many weeks of preparation, the app testing was finally conducted for students with disabilities. Since the previous blog update, I created the experiment design and questionnaire that the students used in the testing that took place the week of March 6th. The original plan was to have the students test the applications on iPads, however on the day of the experiment the iPads that were rented out were not functioning properly. In order to continue on with the experiment it was found to be much easier to have the students install the application on their own personal phones so that each student could have their own device to use for the experiment. After some thought, I also adjusted the experiment design to have two groups: students with disabilities and pace students. Then I also had 4 apps to test. Three of the apps were available for free on the app market for download and I also had a control application which was the preinstalled task manager app on the iPhone. All of the apps were on iOS platforms.
The applications were also all task mangers that had various features to be tested against. The features were, ease of use, functionality, visual design, task addition, productivity tracking, and multimedia. Each one of these categories was defined to the test population so that they could accurately assess each of the apps in the feature categories and rate them based on their experience using the application to add a task to the application dash board. For the experiment, I researched sources and articles to figure out what categories needed to be tested. More importantly, these sources will also be used to back up the reasoning behind certain categories. The research also allowed me to better define the testing parameters and definitions that I used in the experiment.
Some of my observations during the experiment were that some of the students with disabilities needed help from their Pace mentor using the application. This may skew some of the results from the population with disabilities because the opinion of the Pace partners may be laced in with their own evaluation of the application. However, one thing that I did notice was that the testing room was very quiet once the testing began. I was not expecting this but this benefited the experiment because students were not talking about their personal opinion of the applications with each other but were completing the test sheet on their own accord. Additionally, having the testing device be a smartphone instead of a tablet will result in this research being applicable to the everyday use of students because majority of the participants had a smartphone verses having a tablet. Using an iPhone was also more convenient to the students.
My target was to get 30 students to participate, and I ended up getting 50 students to participate in the study. This is good news for the experiment because I will have a larger population of students to analyze and quantify the data. Quantifying and organizing the raw data from the testing sheets will be the next step in conducting this research study. This will give important insight into how the different groups use productivity and task manager applications as well as point to what features are needed in order for the application to be useful to the population of students with disabilities.