Undergraduate Student Wins First Place Research Award

Experience Architecture sophomore Erin Campbell recently won a first place award at the Special Interest Group on the Design of Communication (SIGDOC) for her research on museum visitor participation, specifically at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum on Michigan State University’s campus.

The Research

Contrary to most Experience Architecture students, Campbell is more interested in user experience within the physical realm rather than the digital one. This led her to reach out to the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum.

Campbell set out to better understand how the museum could encourage different kinds of participation by designing a project aimed at discovering visitor experience.

“Given the layout of the Broad and because it’s open to the public, the museum has a challenge in collecting information on visitors…because visitors aren’t forced to interact with museum personnel,” Campbell said. “Most people enter, participate and leave while remaining anonymous.”

To shed light on this issue, Campbell set out to better understand how the museum could encourage different kinds of participation by designing a project aimed at discovering visitor experience.

“I was able to learn a lot about the user experience of visitors at the Broad. This enabled me to pinpoint an appropriate time and place for collecting information about visitors so they don’t continue to remain anonymous,” Campbell said. “By interviewing a family post visit, I was able to map a visitor’s experience from beginning to end. This gave employees of the Broad a new perspective on their visitors’ experiences.”

SIGDOC Experience

The initial goal of Campbell’s research was to present at University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF) at MSU in the spring. With her high ambitions, she ended up submitting an abstract proposal to SIGDOC and received an acceptance letter. She then prepared for a presentation larger than anticipated.

As an undergrad, Campbell was the youngest person at the conference.

I was able to learn a lot about the user experience of visitors at the Broad. This enabled me to pinpoint an appropriate time and place for collecting information about visitors so they don’t continue to remain anonymous.

“This set me up for a lot of amazing networking opportunities to meet academics and other professionals in the field of user experience from all over the country,” she said.

After the first-round presentation, Campbell spoke with various judges about her research. For the second round, she had to prepare a 10-minute presentation in front of a room full of judges and colleagues.

“Thanks to the poster session the day before, I felt even more comfortable talking to the judges,” she said. “I actually enjoy public speaking a lot so I was excited to present again.”

Campbell was awarded first place in the undergraduate category and moves on to the Grand Finals of the Student Research Competition.

“I feel honored to have participated in SIGDOC and to have had the opportunity to share my research with so many inspiring professionals in the field that I love,” Campbell said. “I am very thankful for everything that my research has taught me and for all the doors it has opened and will continue to open.”