Julie Kientz Research Group

Spring 2017

Amazon Alexa: Understanding the role of Voice Assisted Technology in the Home

Led by PhD student Taryn Bipat

Voice activated assistants are becoming increasingly more prominent in homes across the globe. This is a new computing interface that is beginning to impact our behaviors and interactions similar to mobile phones but with voice rather than a visual screen.  The goal of this project is to understand the the impact this developing technology has on human behavior and to understand the stakeholders perceptions of voice assisted technology. 

We are looking for up to 4 students for the Spring quarter to help with a study understanding the use and impact of Amazon Alexa in the home. As part of this research, you will be using a grounded theory method to analyze data from, online forums, interviews and surveys. At the end of the quarter, students will have a better understanding of how to find emerging patterns in the data and how to translate those findings. In the future, we hope to use these preliminary findings in partnership with KidsTeam UW to create and conduct studies focusing on children and families' uses and perceptions of Alexa.

We are looking for students, who have experience with or a willingness to learn (1) qualitative coding and (2) user testing and interviewing methods. It is not necessary but experience with web scraping will be helpful. 

This is a 3-credit research group offered to undergraduate (HCDE 496) and graduate (HCDE 596) students. Students will meet for 1.5 hours every week and should commit around 4 hours outside of class time. 

This research group will be led by PhD student Taryn Bipat, with guidance from Associate Professor Julie Kientz (HCDE). If you are interested, please fill out the following survey by Monday, March 20th:



Spring 2017

Children's Technology Self-Regulation Research

Led by PhD student Alexis Hiniker

We are looking for up to 3 students for Spring quarter to help with a study on teaching self-regulation pre-school aged children (ages 3-5). The project, sponsored by Sesame Workshop, will evaluate whether a commercially available iPad app, Cookie Monster’s Challenge, can teach children self-regulation skills. As part of this research, you will help with running a study with children at Head Start and other local schools to work with children to collect data and aid with video analysis of the findings. If you’re interested, you can also help with writing the results up for publication. Participants will need to be able to get to on-site study venues at Head Start locations around the Seattle area, either by car or public transit.

Specifically, we are looking for motivated students who have (1) experience conducting user tests of interactive technologies; (2) experience working with children or a desire to learn; (3) the ability to learn to help with coding videos for data analysis. If you have experience working with children who are English Language Learners, that is also a plus.

DRG meeting times will be on Mondays from 1:00-2:30 P.M. We expect students to register for 3 credits of HCDE 496 or HCDE 596.

This research group will be led by PhD student Alexis Hiniker, with guidance from Associate Professor Julie Kientz (HCDE).

If you are interested, please fill out the following survey by Wednesday, March 15th:


Spring 2017

Game Accessibility Metadata

Led by HCDE PhD candidate John Porter

This DRG is being offered as a collaboration between HCDE's CHiLL Lab and the iSchool's GAMER Lab. We are looking for up to 4 students this quarter to help with designing and conducting a survey and series of interviews exploring issues surrounding game accessibility to players with motor impairments. This project seeks to better understand and catalog which mechanics and interactions factor into determining a game's accessibility or inaccessibility to a diverse range of motor impaired users. This information will be used to expand the Video Game Metadata Schema (developed by the iSchool's GAMER Lab) to capture a broad set of descriptive qualities, enabling one to make informed predictions about a given game's accessibility based on individual needs.

Activities for this research group will include the opportunity to participate in the design of a survey instrument and of a semistructured interview protocol, working with the research team to conduct interviews of gamers with motor impairments to learn about their experiences, and data analysis. Priority will be given to HCDE and iSchool students who have completed HCDE 417/517, or who have comparable coursework or other experience with user research methods.

Participating students will register for 3 credits of HCDE 496/596, and should expect to commit up to 9 hours per week (depending on project needs in a given week) on this DRG between meetings, group collaboration, and independent work.

This research group will be led by HCDE PhD candidate John Porter, with guidance from Associate Professor Julie Kientz (HCDE) and Associate Professor Jinha Lee (iSchool).

If you are interested, please fill out the following survey by March 22, 2017:


Spring 2017

Youth mental health: a family-oriented approach

DRG led by Professors Julie Kientz and Sean Munson, and PhD student Arpita Bhattacharya

Teenage years and young adulthood are significant stages of transitioning through rapidly changing social dynamics, career pathways, and exposure to unfamiliar circumstances. Reduction in stress has many benefits in social and mental well-being for thriving, as well as in improving treatment outcomes for physical and mental health challenges. What strategies can help youth to cope with stressful situations and start leveraging skills and resources for developing resilience towards stressful events?  

Family members and caregivers can be supportive social resources accessible to most (but not all) youth and may also be a source of interesting social tensions for youth seeking to become less dependent. Risk taking and learning are important aspects of development, and not all events are predictable, avoidable, or can be under control of a parent.  How can stress and mental health be approached from a family perspective?

In this project, we will involve youth and their families in design activities to understand what they think should be the role of technology in helping them manage and mediate support under stressful circumstances.

Activities: We expect to sketch and brainstorm design ideas, design and conduct focus group workshops and interviews with participants, and analyze qualitative data. Readings and discussions will be based on what will help the team learn related work and relevant skills. We look forward to working with 2-3 students who have interest in the topic, have prior experience in conducting focus groups and analyzing qualitative data such as HCDE 313/418/518, and/or have worked on projects in mental health. Depending on progress, students may have the option to continue on this project after the quarter ends.

Caution: We expect study participants to describe situations and emotions that they find stressful. Students in the team will be exposed to data which may also involve narratives on adverse events or trauma. We will work together to be supportive of one another, however, if you are negatively triggered by such content, we encourage you to take necessary measures for self-care while engaging in the project.

Time: We will decide a time based on the team’s availability. All students participating in the DRG, must attend weekly meetings for 90 minutes. Work outside of the meetings will include reading, contributing to design of study materials, conducting focus groups, interviews, analyzing survey and interview results, and writing results to share. You can register for 1–3 credit hours in HCDE 496/596; for each credit you should expect to spend about three hours of work per week outside of meeting times.

If you are interested, please answer this survey by March 22, indicating brief statement of your interest, skills, and planned credits. We will be reviewing the applications and getting back to you shortly after.  Please feel free to reach out with any questions by emailing


Julie Kientz's Directed Research Group archive: