Reflecting on Reflection

Ok.  It’s time to get back on track with this blog.  My goal is to be reflective about the things I observe in the world of HCI.  So, what does being reflective actually mean?

My husband recently received this in a fortune cookie:

Experience is what you get when you experience what you do not want.

That made me think of something I blogged about in January (User Reflections and Expectations), where I lamented that people seem to remember the bad experiences more than they do the ones that are just good.  Therefore, if designers want users to remember their experiences with a product or at a website, they must strive to create an experience that goes above and beyond the users’ expectations.

In trying to determine how a designer would go about accomplishing such a thing, I remembered another blog post of mine, Designing The Gambling Experience, in which I very briefly discussed a few papers on the subject of “an experience” that I read and discussed in one of my classes. The articles were by Dilithy, Bruner, and Dewey, and though I found them a little, well, thick, they apparently had some sort of affect on me, because 8 months later I’m thinking about them again!

And, isn’t that what reflecting is all about?  It’s not a “one-and-done” deal.  It’s something that has to take place continuously.  In fact, isn’t reflection just thinking about ones own experiences?  So, in the two blog posts I mention above, I was thinking about my own experiences to try to understand the concept of experience.  (Whoa…that sounded pretty existentialistic! LOL)

Reflection is a “catalyst for learning”, as Dr. Bob Rausch wrote in Reflection -Getting the Most from Experience. While the intended audience for his article is corporate CEOs, I think he lays down a framework that HCI practitioners will find useful.

He suggests that you ask yourself four specific questions at the end of the year, and use the answers to help you plan the next year.  I’ve modified them slightly to be more relevant to my situation.

  1. What were your blessings?
  2. What were your learning experiences?
  3. What will you take with you into the next project/class/your career?
  4. What will you discard or leave behind?

Going forward, I am going to try to ask myself these questions at the end of every project (or class, or scholarly article, etc.) in which I participate.

And, I will be starting those projects, classes, and articles next week!

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