Kate Starbird

Winter 2018

Understanding conversation strategies on social media: How can we redesign discussion forums?

Thanks for your interest, but we are no longer looking for students. We encourage anyone who is interested to apply again next quarter.

We are looking for students to join our winter 2017 quarter Directed Research Group (research for credit) investigating day-to-day conversations on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook etc. We wish to investigate the following in the context of social media conversations about scientific and political topics:

  1. How does individual bias impact these conversations? 
  2. What strategies do people use to preserve their self-esteem in such a conversation? 
  3. When do people learn from these conversations? How can we acknowledge such informal learning?

In particular, we are interested in identifying opportunities for redesigning interfaces to facilitate online conversations such that people can overcome their preconceived beliefs. We will conduct a literature review (read and summarize papers) about conversations on social media, create physical chat rooms for mediated discussions, and create low fidelity (paper) prototypes to gather some preliminary user data.

What makes you a suitable candidate? 

  1. Curiosity about human conversations on social media 
  2. Some experience with user research and facilitating user studies
  3. Prior knowledge (or some understanding) about experimental design
  4. Passion for designing new user interfaces 
  5. Looking to register for 2-3 credits (i.e. 6-9 hours of weekly work)

The group will be facilitated by Prof. Kate Starbird and PhD student Himanshu Zade. This will be a great opportunity to learn about research through design and user studies. Meeting time is TBD.

Winter 2018

Doubt, Disgust & Disinformation: Designing to Support Emotional Reasoning for Networked Societies

In this directed research group, we will think critically about 'fake news' and the human instinct to focus more on protecting one's world-view and less on discerning truth from falsehood. We will learn about how this instinct is being exploited in increasingly sophisticated ways by propagators of online misinformation to promote their ideas and commitments. 

We will also explore how cultivating self-awareness around our emotions can help us guide our thinking and behavior around some of these challenges. To do this, we will try out different activities to learn about the challenges we become subject to when we read material we don't agree with. And we will try out activities that might help us step outside of those challenges with an eye toward designing future interventions.

This work will help us understand what we can do in educational and online spaces to address the alarming deterioration of trust and emotional manipulation that is occurring in our public spheres. On a personal level, this work might help you learn about things like: 1) Flavors of online misinformation; and 2) What you can do differently when you engage with information to protect yourself as a citizen.

This will be a 2-credit hour course for HCDE 496 / 596. The group will be facilitated by Ph.D. candidate Ahmer Arif and Dr. Kate Starbird. If you are interested in registering, please contact Ahmer at

Winter 2018

Understanding the Impact of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Ricans through Social Media (En Español)

HCDE Asst. Professor Kate Starbird is seeking a few students to join a Winter Quarter Directed Research Group (research for credit) looking at the impact of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Ricans. Particularly, we are looking for students who can help with qualitative analysis of Spanish language social media and/or have contextual knowledge of Puerto Rico. Students from all departments and all levels are welcome to apply. 

If you are ...

  • fully bilingual and/or culturally fluent in contemporary Puerto Rican culture
  • have some interest in qualitative analysis of large scale social media data sets and/or want to do research to help people in crisis 
  • can commit 6 hours of work per week (3 credit hours) for Winter Quarter

please drop a line to expressing your interest and relevant background. 


Kate Starbird's Directed Research Group Archive: