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MacSHAPA
...software for observational data analysis

Developed at University of Illinois by Penelope Sanderson


Announcing the release of MacSHAPA 1.0.3--available from the WWW!

Description and background of MacSHAPA:

Setting up and working with MacSHAPA:

Recent events and uses of MacSHAPA:

Parts of this page are adapted from an article in CSERIAC Gateway, Volume V, Number 3 (1994)


Why observational data analysis? [^]

Whether pursuing fundamental research issues, gathering requirements for design, or evaluating prototypes, human factors investigators often collect data from people performing real-world tasks. We might want to understand working relations captured in cockpit voice recordings, seek cause-effect relations between system states and human errors in high-fidelity aviation or industrial simulators, or model collaborative work activities from video records.

In some cases, we simply make notes while observing people at work. In other cases we make video recordings which allow more detailed analyses later. Increasingly, control activities can be recorded electronically while people work on computers or in simulators. However, we always end up with a great deal of data to analyze.


Challenges of observational data analysis [^]

Unfortunately, our ability to analyze the rich data we can now collect has not kept up very well with our ability to collect it. Moreover, the fact that we can collect rich data almost suggests that we must analyze it all in detail. It is seldom clear what the best way will be to analyze complex multimedia observational data. To some extent this is because we have not yet had full control over such data, manipulating and exploring it, and thereby developing effective analytic practices.

Overall then, this kind of data analysis--recently termed Exploratory Sequential Data Analysis or ESDA for short (Sanderson & Fisher, 1994)--is still conceptually difficult and very time-consuming.


MacSHAPA's features [^]

MacSHAPA is one of a number of software tools now emerging to help with the problems of ESDA (for other examples see Sanderson, 1994). MacSHAPA does not help with every kind of ESDA--no software tool can--but it does help with certain kinds. MacSHAPA lets you do the following:

Full information about MacSHAPA's features and use can be found in Sanderson, Scott, Johnston, Mainzer, Watanabe, and James (1994). The following sections provide a brief description of MacSHAPA's features.


Support for video analysis [^]

MacSHAPA has simple multimedia capabilities: you can control a VCR from the Macintosh, using MacSHAPA to play, pause, stop, rewind, fast forward, jog, and shuttle at different speeds.

MacSHAPA lets you capture timecodes from video, insert them into the data, and find a videotape location that corresponds to a timestamp selected in the data. Video can be displayed on an external monitor. Alternatively, with the appropriate hardware and software, video can be displayed on the computer screen alongside the data. By using third-party software connected to MacSHAPA, different kinds of video devices can be used.

The latest information about video devices supported and about MacSHAPA users' successes with different VCR connections is in the Video Device Update.


Qualitative analyses, quantitative analyses, and queries [^]

Qualitative and quantitative analysis activities are both supported by MacSHAPA.

MacSHAPA's statistical routines include content analysis, duration analysis, transition analyses (and simple Markov analysis), lag sequential analysis, reliability measures such as Cohen's kappa and information theoretical measures, and cycles reports.

Finally, MacSHAPA offers a simple query language that allows you to ask questions of their data that might not be supported by the statistical routines already within MacSHAPA.


Strengths and weaknesses of MacSHAPA [^]

Some kinds of exploratory sequential data analysis can be conveniently supported with MacSHAPA, whereas it is less suitable for other kinds.

MacSHAPA is therefore the implementation of a preliminary hypothesis about how certain kinds of ESDA might be aided. The software is primary a research tool developed in a research laboratory, and does not have some of the features expected of a commercial software product. However, it is continually evolving in response to users' comments.

Our goal in developing MacSHAPA has been to help effective methods emerge for analyzing observational and sequential data. We hope that the software will put you in much closer contact with your data, and allow you to carry out analyses you would not otherwise contemplate!


User support [^]

Users are supported with email mailing lists that we maintain at University of Illinois. A general mailing list allows users to answer each other's questions and pass ideas amongst themselves. It also lets the development team pass information to the whole community of users. More specific lists let users send specific questions or reports of problems to the MacSHAPA development team, which we field as best we can with our limited resources.

Workshops on the use of MacSHAPA, and surveys of related tools, can also be arranged.


Manual [^]

MacSHAPA comes with an 800-page manual that describes and illustrates the software's features and functionality in detail, supported by many screen dumps and figures. The manual also includes three tutorials, one introductory and the other two on more advanced topics.

CSERIAC is currently distributing the version 1.0.2 manual, but it is still more than 95% valid. We will supply an updated manual as soon as resources allow. In the meantime, the 1.0.3 release notes are more extensive than usual, so should help current and new users with the new features introduced in 1.0.3. However the 1.0.3 release notes are completely inadequate to introduce new users to the features and use of MacSHAPA. New users should contact CSERIAC for the 1.0.2 manual.

To obtain the 1.0.2 manual contact Product Sales, the phone number is (937) 255-3880.


References [^]

Sanderson, P.M. (1994). Exploratory Sequential Data Analysis: Software. Engineering Psychology Research Laboratory Technical Report (EPRL-94-01). University of Illinois, Urbana, IL.

Sanderson, P. M., J. J. P. Scott, T. Johnston, J. Mainzer, L. M. Watanabe, & J. M. James (1994). MacSHAPA and the enterprise of Exploratory Sequential Data Analysis (ESDA). International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 41, 633-68.

Sanderson, P.M., & Fisher, C. (1994). Exploratory Sequential Data Analysis: Foundations. Human-Computer Interaction, 9, 251-317.

Sanderson, P.M., McNeese, M., & Zaff, B. (1994). Knowledge elicitation and observation in engineering psychology: MacSHAPA and COGENT. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, and Computers, 26, 117-124.


Support for development [^]

MacSHAPA was developed with support from the following organizations:


Programming team [^]

MacSHAPA was programmed by the following people:


Obtaining copies of MacSHAPA [^]

MacSHAPA is distributed on a cost-recovery-only basis from CSERIAC at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. For further information about MacSHAPA and to place orders and arrange shipping, please contact Product Sales, the phone number is (937) 255-3880.2.


MacSHAPA workshops [^]

For information about MacSHAPA workshops and training, please contact Penelope Sanderson on the following email address: psanders@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu. Fax: (217) 244-6534.


VCR update [^]

For recent information about VCRs being used by MacSHAPA users, you can access a MacSHAPA VCR update from here.


MacSHAPA mailing lists [^]

We maintain three MacSHAPA mailing lists, described below.

When there are bugs or questions, please send mail to MacSHAPA-questions or MacSHAPA-bugs rather than to an individual member of the development team--it helps keep us all in touch with issues that are emerging.

MacSHAPA-users
Private list for general discussions, questions, news, etc. Mails to all registered MacSHAPA users plus the MacSHAPA development team. No advertising.
MacSHAPA-questions
For asking questions without broadcasting them to the whole user group. Mails just to the MacSHAPA development team.
MacSHAPA-bugs
For reporting bugs, or behavior that might be a bug. Mails just to the MacSHAPA development team.

Note: order of priority in answering questions is (1) sponsors, (2) registered users who have purchased MacSHAPA manuals from CSERIAC, (3) everyone else. Sorry--we're finite!


updated 7 June, 1997
m-weller@uiuc.edu (for P. Sanderson)