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The Pocket Universal Methods of Design by Bella Martin, Bruce Hanington

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020 Contextual Inquiry

An immersive, contextual way to observe and interview that reveals underlying work structure

• Four principles define the contextual inquiry method:

1. Context: To understand the ongoing experience and tacit knowledge of the worker, it is critical that the researcher observe details in context.

2. Partnership: This is similar to a master/apprentice model, watching, asking questions, and seeking to understand how the data more reliably reflects reality.

3. Interpretation: What researchers see and hear must be interpreted for meaning and double-checked with participants on-site.

4. Focus: The researcher must learn to expand beyond personal focus to see more in the participant’s world, picking up on idiosyncrasies and contradictions. ...

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