Monday, September 12, 2016

The Software Development Tripod of Successful Team Work

Claire Davison 
Week 1 Readings
Dix, Finlay, Aboud & Beale’s Introduction to Human Computer interaction begins by discussing what make a usable design. The components that are presented as necessary to make a computer system usable are aligned with Neilson’s Heuristics, which have been presented in other ISU HCI classes and are commonly used as a guideline for a user interface heuristic evaluation. While the chapter does state that HCI is an inter-disciplinary field, it puts a heavy emphasis on computer science. This idea has shown up in other readings and mentioned in discussions before but through experience, research and presentations from experts in the field; I believe otherwise. The authors do identify themselves as computer scientists and acknowledge that their view is not shared by everyone in the field; but I believe an HCI team with members who felt that one discipline was more important than the other would suffer compared to a team who believed each psychology, design, and computer science or engineering were equal “legs” in a tripod.

The chapter, “The Science of the Mind” feeds into an ongoing fascination I have with learning about and understanding how people think, learn, and make decisions.  In my experience as a kindergarten teacher, I have participated in the building of generic knowledge through guided development of episodic knowledge. When children first begin school in kindergarten, they bring with them a wide variety of prior experiences and knowledge, both cultural and academic.  The process of teaching these students foundational principles of academics and preparing them to be successful in their subsequent is very connected to the scope of cognitive psychology, as outlined in this chapter.

The third reading, Introduction to Human Factors, highlights factors that will be discussed throughout the book and ignites interest in factors I hadn’t put much time into learning about or focusing on. Having worked as an elementary teacher, acute hospital staff, and 9-1-1 dispatcher, I can relate to many of the stressful situations described in the chapter and understand how processes that seemed efficient while being designed or even during testing, could become cumbersome during times of crisis when the user’s perception and decision making skills become altered by high levels of stress. I am excited to increase my depth of knowledge in human factors through this text during this semester.

I agree with your assessment of Dix, Finlay, Aboud & Beale’s Intro. I also like the tripod analogy. In my experience, there are lots of disciplines within HCI and software development that tend to put more emphasis or weigh one aspect of a project as more important than the other. My guess is that many fields struggle with this same polarity, which may be counterproductive to successful projects and working relationships. Studying the cultivation of these types of relationships may be an interesting future study.   
Sheila Simsarian Webber and Catherine Durnell Cramton do a study on the interpersonal relationships of development teams in the Journal of Business Research. The article is called, Relationships among geographic dispersion, team processes, and effectiveness in software development work teams. The article's focus is primarily on team effectiveness based on location, but there are points where they discuss more of the dynamics. If you've read other articles or books with similar dynamics or a focus more on the psychology aspect, I would be interested. 
  • Sheila Simsarian Webber and Catherine Durnell Cramton  (June 2005). Volume 58, Issue 6, Pages 705-862. Relationships among geographic dispersion, team processes, and effectiveness in software development work teams.
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Senior UI/UX web designer at a large-scale IT contractor for defense, intelligence, and civilian government solutions. Adventurist and certified Yoga / Barre Instructor. Love aviation, books, and travel.Prefer long light hearted series in mystery, comedy, fantasy, and romance.

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