Identifying and understanding user preferences in generic tools for planning

Grisel Ventura-Luna, University of Texas at El Paso


Planning is an important cognitive work activity. To support this complex task, the development of planning tools is important to support people during decision-making and problem-solving tasks. Nowadays, a large number of manual and electronic tools support this complex activity; manual and electronic planning tools aid people in creating strategies for effective work performance. However, there is limited information on the design of generic planning tools people use for their activities, and why people choose to use the planning tool they do. Some examples of generic tools for planning are calendars, checklists, agendas, etc. To answer this question, this research study identifies and understands user preferences in the selection of these types of planning tools, particularly when users can choose manual or electronic planning tools. Principles of design, such as affordance, are considered in this study to generate insight on users' preferences between manual and electronic generic planning tools. Usability evaluation techniques and qualitative analyses were used for the study. Eight engineering students, male and females, from the University of Texas at El Paso were recruited for an open-ended interview. Participants were asked to describe their planning process and their successes and struggles when using a particular generic planning tool for the creation of a plan. Participants were audiotaped during the interview. The data collected from audiotapes was transcribed and qualitatively coded to identify user preferences in relationship to the characteristics of planning tools they used. The analysis of transcripts obtained from participants' interviews from data analyses showed that user's preferences on generic planning tools are linked to principles of design such as affordance and visibility.

Subject Area

Design|Industrial engineering|Cognitive psychology

Recommended Citation

Ventura-Luna, Grisel, "Identifying and understanding user preferences in generic tools for planning" (2011). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1498326.