Human Computer Interaction Ph.D. Thesis Proposal

  • Gates Hillman Centers
  • Reddy Conference Room 4405
  • ALEXANDRA TO
  • Ph.D. Student
  • Human-Computer Interaction Institute
  • Carnegie Mellon University
Thesis Proposals

Empowering Uncertainty Resolution for Vulnerable Populations

We all experience uncertainty every day. What will the weather be like? Will I be able to do well on that test today? Will my sister call me back this evening? Sometimes the uncertainty we experience can be overwhelming and the stakes can be very high. Will my paycheck arrive on time to pay my rent? What was the result from the medical scan I had yesterday? For people from vulnerable populations, the stakes of even those ‘everyday’ types of uncertainty can become overwhelming and provide unique and difficult threats. Did the teacher not call on me because I’m a woman of color? Did that police officer pull me over because of my race? In my research, I study the impact of varying levels of uncertainty on vulnerable populations. In some situations, uncertainty can be used to create enticing motivation to learn more and gain competence. For example, puzzles present uncertainty that can be fun and in fact encourage learning. However, in other situations, overwhelming uncertainty can be stressful and cause undue burdens to cognitive load and disengagement. For example, acts of discrimination in the workplace can create uncertainty about a person’s standing and ability to perform well at their job.

In this thesis I seek to study and design tools to empower uncertainty reduction for people from vulnerable groups. In previous research I have designed tabletop games using uncertainty to help increase comfort in STEM contexts for underrepresented group as well as studied how people cope with racism through meaning-making via uncertainty reduction. In my proposed work I will conduct an interactive vignette study to understand how aware of uncertainty a person may be while experiencing racism. I will also conduct co-design and participatory design session with stakeholders in order to design for support-seeking and uncertainty reduction.

Thesis Committee:
Jessica Hammer (Co-Chair)
Geoff Kaufman(Co-Chair)
Jason Hong
Kevin Jarbo (SDS/CSDI)
Kody Manke (Psych)

Copy of Proposal Document

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