The xDelia Research Approach
Research and development activities in xDelia are conceptually divided into two overlapping stages that span the three years of the duration of the project. Project activities in both stages are organised and guided by a purpose-built, participatory design and evaluation framework. During the first stage, the research team generates knowledge in specific areas of financial decision making through experimental and field research. The second stage then makes use of this knowledge to specify, design, and pilot the learning applications, focusing on aspects of financial decision making that are of great practical importance in professional trading, private investment, and financial capability.
The participatory design and evaluation framework
The evaluation framework provides a space for stakeholder participation and partner consultation and involvement. There are two main reasons for having such a framework in xDelia:
- To establish a shared understanding of concepts, methods, and goals of the project.
- To implement and coordinate a continual formative evaluation of research processes and the outcomes throughout the life of the project.
One of the first goals of the evaluation framework is to establish the overarching research questions that will guide the design of the project activities and interventions, and to reconcile these research questions with the methods and methodologies brought to the project by the different partners. This is a challenge in interdisciplinary projects of this kind that run over relatively long timescales and in which the activities of some project partners depend on the activities and findings of other partners.To achieve consensus on research questions and methods, all partners are invited to join in stakeholder workshops. Workshop are one of three types: i) prototype development workshop, ii) substantive, subject-orientated workshop, and ii) design and evaluation workshop. However they share an overarching aim of developing a shared understanding of the goals and main elements of the xDelia project. A key aspect of this shared understanding is a co-participatory evaluation in which all project partners engage with the evaluative process. Thus the findings from each workshop feed into the evolving Design and Evaluation framework and inform the design of subsequent workshops. There are three types of workshops
Experimental and field studies
To address the questions of suitable methods and viable research instruments, xDelia makes use of two instruments: exploratory studies and in-depth studies. By ‘study’, we mean experimental (lab-based) and field (in situ) research either on an easily accessible population such as students or on actual decision makers, that is, traders, investors, and young people at the ‘point of need’. In some of these experimental and field studies, we use games, game-based technologies as well as technologies used in games, and sensors to gather contextual, physiological, and behavioural data.
Exploratory studies address the issues of acceptability, viability, and so on of the shortlist of research approaches and research instruments proposed by the evaluation framework. As part of these studies, game-based technologies and sensors are evaluated as possible instruments for data gathering. The key idea here is that these studies will focus our attention on knowledge gaps and shortcomings in technology that need to be addressed before embarking on the design of the pilot applications. Once the exploratory studies have identified these gaps, more in-depth investigations of particularly salient aspects will complement the currently available knowledge.
In-depth studies are a key element of the xDelia project, providing a thorough evidence base covering salient features of expert performance and other topics relevant to the three application domains. The studies are a prerequisite for the successful design and implementation of the application pilots. Examples of questions that might be addressed by in-depth studies are the predisposition of experienced investors to particular biases (e.g. those pertaining to the illusion of control) or the extent to which arousal correlates with visual cues on trading screens, and how novice and expert traders differ on this account. The exact form of these questions is shaped by stakeholder needs (e.g. a preference for mentoring support rather than decision support; or a drive towards forming attitudes and making learning available at the point-of-need) and by the outcome of the exploratory studies. In general, the in-depth studies are expected to generate knowledge about (1) key characteristics of decision makers and decision making and (2) the way that game and sensor technologies can be used in novel ways as components of non-formal and informal learning support applications, and (3) game and sensor artefacts that can be incorporated ‘as-is’ or in modified form into the pilots.
The project will produce pilot applications professional trading, private investment, and financial capability. The design of the pilots are based on the outcome of the in-depth studies as well as some of the experimental instruments and smaller game prototypes mandated by the exploratory studies. The design of the pilots early on in the project and evolves as results from the different studies emerge. The implementation of the pilots covers the preparation of the guidelines and recommendations for deployment and use. Moreover, data on actual use will continue to be gathered after the pilot has been deployed to end users.