177 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
ATTN: Andrea Parker, 910 -177
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
Human-computer interaction; personal health informatics; social computing, including systems that connect neighbors, peers, and family members to collectively improve their wellness; the design and evaluation of software tools that help citizens identify and address locally-relevant health issues; digital games for health promotion; the design of systems that evocatively represent (e.g., visualize) sensor-collected behavioral and contextual data for reflection and behavior change; computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW); mobile and ubiquitous computing; ethnographic and qualitative empirical methods; health disparities.
- PhD in Human-Centered Computing, Georgia Tech
- BS in Computer Science, Northeastern University
Andrea Grimes Parker is an Assistant Professor at Northeastern University, with joint appointments in the College of Computer & Information Science and the Bouvé College of Health Sciences. She holds a PhD in Human-Centered Computing from Georgia Tech and a BS in Computer Science from Northeastern University.
Professor Parker’s interdisciplinary research in human-computer interaction (HCI), computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW), and personal health informatics examines how social and ubiquitous computing systems can help reduce racial, ethnic, and economic health disparities. She uses in-depth fieldwork to examine the intra-personal, social, cultural, and environmental factors that influence a person’s ability and desire to make healthy decisions. Using the insights gained in these investigations, she designs and evaluates mobile, ubiquitous and collaborative computing systems that support health and wellness. Much of her research has focused on the design of interactive systems that help neighborhoods care for themselves, and systems that encourage adolescent and family-based behavior change.
Professor Parker’s research has yielded best paper nominations at the premier HCI conferences and she has served on technical program committees for the Association for Computing Machinery’s (ACM) top HCI conferences, including CHI, CSCW and Ubicomp. She served as the National Evaluator for Aetna Foundation projects on digital approaches to health equity and is co-chair of Late-Breaking Work for CHI 2016. Professor Parker is also a 2015-2016 Northeastern University Humanities Center Fellow.
CHS: Small: Collaborative Research: Catalyzing Youth Civic Engagement Through Innovations in Social Computing
CHS: Small: Collaborative Research: Catalyzing Youth Civic Engagement Through Innovations in Social Computing
The award is for $469,248 over 3 years. The project is a collaboration between myself (PI), Brooke Foucault Welles in CAMD (co-PI), and Catherine D’Ignazio at Emerson College (co-PI). Our community partner for this project is The Center for Teen Empowerment, an amazing organization doing critical social justice work in MA and NY.
This grant will allow us to build and evaluate novel social computing tools that help youth to visualize, understand and leverage the social capital in their networks to engage in more effective activism around social justice issues.
This research will design, develop, and evaluate novel smartphone applications that help youth explore and leverage their social networks to engage in collective action, and assess the impact of this action. From affiliation with social movements through the use of Twitter hashtags, to collective organizing through Facebook, social computing tools have catalyzed new and exciting forms of civic engagement (efforts taken by individuals and collectives to address issues of societal concern). While historically it has been challenging to engage youth in civic action, social computing platforms offer a media-relevant way for youth to address issues that matter to them. However, despite increased opportunities for civic engagement online, youth can have difficulty navigating their social networks, which creates challenges for understanding and putting to use the social capital within networks, that is, the beneficial resources that can support collective action. This research examines how interactive visualizations of youth’s social networks can help youth more effectively understand and put to use the social capital within their networks. Such visualizations may support civic engagement by easing access to the rich and complex information about social ties, helping youth evaluate the impact they have through online civic action, preparing them to make effective decisions about future activities. The work will include the design, development, and evaluation of two novel smartphone applications. Although there is a large literature on how best to visualize these networks from an algorithmic perspective, very little is known about how people, especially young people, interpret network visualizations, nor whether or when network visualizations may enhance access to and utilization of social capital. This project will contribute new empirical findings and novel software tools to fill this research gap. Additionally, although complex network data is increasingly packaged for public consumption, there are few standards for how to do so effectively, particularly in the context of mobile visualizations where small screen real estate dramatically amplifies the visualization challenge. The research will contribute new knowledge regarding how best to visualize network data for lay audiences, on the mobile platforms that people are increasingly using to interact with data. This work will yield empirical assessments of how designed interfaces can best manage the complexities of networked data in order to amplify cognition, action, and feelings of empowerment. This work will culminate in a conceptual framework to guide the design of social computing tools for youth civic engagement. This award reflects NSF’s statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation’s intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Irannejad Bisafar, F., Martinez, L.I. and Parker, A.G. Social Computing-Driven Activism in Youth Empowerment Organizations: Challenges and Opportunities Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM, Montreal QC, Canada, 2018, 1-13.
Throughout the world, organizations empower youth to participate in civic engagement to impact social change, and adult-youth collaborations are instrumental to the success of such initiatives. However, little is known about how technology supports this activism work, despite the fact that tools such as Social Networking Applications (SNAs) are increasingly being leveraged in such contexts. We report results from a qualitative study of SNA use within a youth empowerment organization. Using the analytical lens of object-oriented publics, our findings reveal opportunities and challenges that youth and staff face when they use SNAs. We describe the illegibility of youth outreach efforts on SNAs, and how this illegibility complicated staff attempts to hold youth accountable. We also characterize how youth and staff differed in what they felt were socially appropriate uses of SNA features, and tensions that arose in the co-use of these tools. We conclude with implications for the design of collaborative technologies that support youth-led activism in organizational contexts.
Herman Saksono, Carmen Castaneda-Sceppa, Jessica Hoffman, Magy Seif El-Nasr, Vivien Morris, Andrea G. Parker. 2018. Family Health Promotion in Low-SES Neighborhoods: A Two-Month Study of Wearable Activity Tracking. In Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’18). ACM.
Low-socioeconomic status (SES) families face increased barriers to physical activity (PA)-a behavior critical for reducing and preventing chronic disease. Research has explored how wearable PA trackers can encourage increased activity, and how the adoption of such trackers is driven by people’s emotions and social needs. However, more work is needed to understand how PA trackers are perceived and adopted by low-SES families, where PA may be deprioritized due to economic stresses, limited resources, and perceived crime. Accordingly, we conducted a two-month, in-depth qualitative study, exploring low-SES caregivers’ perspectives on PA tracking and promotion. Our findings show how PA tracking was impacted by caregivers’ attitudes toward safety, which were influenced by how they perceived social connections within their neighborhoods; and cognitive-emotional processes. We conclude that PA tracking tools for low-SES families should help caregivers and children to experience and celebrate progress.
Stowell, E., Lyson, M.C., Saksono, H., Rene, #233, Wurth, C., Jimison, H., Pavel, M. and Parker, A.G. "Designing and Evaluating mHealth Interventions for Vulnerable Populations: A Systematic Review," Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, ACM, Montreal QC, Canada, 2018, 1-17. (Honorable Mention, Best Paper Award (top 5% of submissions)
Diverse disciplines, including Human-Computer Interaction have explored how mobile health (mHealth) applications can transform healthcare and health promotion. Increasingly, research has explored how mHealth tools can promote healthy behaviors within vulnerable populations-groups that disproportionately experience barriers to wellness. We conducted a systematic review of 83 papers from diverse disciplines to characterize the design and impact of mHealth tools in low-socioeconomic (low-SES) and racial/ethnic minority individuals. Our findings highlight that the diversity within low-SES and racial/ethnic minority groups was not reflected in the populations studied. Most studies focused on improving the health of individuals, often neglecting factors at the community and society levels that influence health disparities. Moreover, few improvements in health outcomes were demonstrated. We further discuss factors that acted as barriers and facilitators of mHealth intervention adoption. Our findings highlight trends that can drive critically needed digital health innovations for vulnerable populations.
A Sociotechnical Study of a Community-based Rewards Program: Insights on Building Social, Financial and Human Capital
Irannejad Bisafar, F., Ponnada, A., Shamekhi, A. and Parker, A.G., "A Sociotechnical Study of a Community-based Rewards Program: Insights on Building Social, Financial and Human Capital," Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction 1, CSCW (2017), 1-21.
Individual empowerment is defined as an increased sense of confidence and control over one’s life.
Empowerment is critical in low-income communities, and can be facilitated through the development of
social, financial and human capital. We present a qualitative study of a community program that seeks to
empower low-income neighborhood residents through a mobile application that connects them to local
resources. Our findings highlight how the application and offline socio-organizational mechanisms worked
in tandem to create gateways for capital building—sparking connections (to people and opportunities) that
residents leveraged with varying motivations and outcomes. We also discuss how the interplay of newlydeveloped
financial, social, and human capital contributed to residents’ sense of empowerment and
impacted their families. We contribute to CSCW by extending an existing community informatics
framework, characterizing the value of sociotechnical systems that holistically build social, financial, and
human capital amongst neighborhood residents.
Parker, A. G., Saksono, H., Hoffman, J. A., & Castaneda-Sceppa, C. (2017). A Community Health Orientation for Wellness Technology Design & Delivery. In Designing Healthcare That Works. 59-76.
Health promotion increasingly occurs outside of the boundaries of traditional care settings such as hospitals and clinics. Interventions that are anchored within community-based organizations, seeking to meet the nuanced needs of local residents, are a vital component of the wellness promotion ecosystem. These programs are particularly critical when addressing health in low socioeconomic communities, as the services may be more accessible, affordable, and relevant to the needs of populations facing significant barriers to wellness.
In this chapter, we examine how technology can become embedded within the context of community-based health interventions. We present a case study from our research, in which we employed a user-centered design process to create and evaluate a novel family exergame within a community-based organization. We use this case study to discuss the criticality, challenge, and benefits of integrating wellness technologies within a broader community health promotion infrastructure.
Herman Saksono and Andrea Grimes Parker. 2017. Reflective Informatics Through Family Storytelling: Self-discovering Physical Activity Predictors. Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - CHI ’17, ACM.
HCI research has increasingly examined how sensing technologies can help people capture and visualize data about their health-related behaviors. Yet, few systems help people reflect more fundamentally on the factors that influence behaviors such as physical activity (PA). To address this research gap, we take a novel approach, examining how such reflections can be stimulated through a medium that generations of families have used for reflection and teaching: storytelling. Through observations and interviews, we studied how 13 families interacted with a low-fidelity prototype, and their attitudes towards this tool. Our prototype used storytelling and interactive prompts to scaffold reflection on factors that impact children’s PA. We contribute to HCI research by characterizing how families interacted with a story-driven reflection tool, and how such a tool can encourage critical processes for behavior change. Informed by the Transtheoretical Model, we present design implications for reflective informatics systems.
Farnaz Irannejad Bisafar, Herman Saksono, Priscilla Baquerizo, Dana Moore, and Andrea G Parker. 2016. Youth Advocacy in SNAs: Challenges for Addressing Health Disparities. Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - CHI ’16: 3620–3624.
Social networking applications (SNAs) have been touted as promising platforms for activism: they provide a platform by which voices can be heard and collective action mobilized. Yet, little work has studied the suitability of existing SNAs for enabling youth advocacy efforts. We conducted an intensive 5-week qualitative study with 10th graders to understand how existing SNAs support and inhibit youth advocacy. We contribute to the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) by explicating several themes regarding the barriers youth face when using SNAs for advocacy, features in existing SNAs that are not suitable for youth advocacy, and the peer pressure youth perceive when advocating for serious issues in these environments. We conclude with recommendations for how existing SNA features could be reformed to better support youth advocacy.
Farnaz Irannejad Bisafar, Andrea G. Parker. 2016, “Confidence & Control: Examining Adolescent Preferences for Technologies that Promote Wellness”, To appear in Proc. of the CSCW 2016.
Our work contributes to the growing body of CSCW research examining how technology can encourage wellness. In a 10-week participatory design study, we examined how technology can help teens overcome intra-personal and social barriers to healthy eating and positive relationships (the wellness topics of greatest interest to our participants). Our findings revealed teensâ desire for expressive technology that helps them initiate dialogue, negotiate conflicts, and restrict communication with family, and their desired degree of engagement with tools promoting healthy eating (passively to actively involved in behavior change). Our analysis further yielded crosscutting themes: the importance of examining issues of self-efficacy, locus of control, and socio-ecological context in the design of health technology. We use our findings to contribute new directions for CSCW research: developing a nuanced perspective on the psychology of change, designing for varying levels of self-efficacy and locus of control, and problematizing the persuasive technology research agenda.
Saksono, H., Ranade, A., Kamarthi, G., Castaneda-Sceppa, C., Hoffman, J.A., Wirth, C. and Parker, A.G., "Spaceship Launch: Designing a Collaborative Exergame for Families," Proceedings of the 18th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing (2015), 1776-1787.
Parents play a critical role in facilitating children’s physical activity, as they are an important source of modeling and support. While Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) researchers have explored exergame design for children or adults separately, an important open area of work is identifying design guidelines for family exergames. One question that researchers have increasingly posed is, how can exergames be designed to avoid potential negative consequences of competition? To address these questions we designed Spaceship Launch, an exergame for parents and kids in lower income neighborhoods, where obesity is most prevalent. We describe our iterative design process: the formative study to identify design opportunities, our resulting system, and our field evaluation of the tool. Our findings highlight the impact of SL on physical activity intentions, and how parental preferences for in-game competition were aligned with the psychological needs of relatedness and competence. We conclude with design recommendations for future family-focused exergames.
Collectivistic health promotion tools: Accounting for the relationship between culture, food and nutrition
Parker, A.G. and Grinter, R.E., "Collectivistic health promotion tools: Accounting for the relationship between culture, food and nutrition," International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 72, 2 (2014), 185-206.
Reflection-through-performance: personal implications of documenting health behaviors for the collective
Parker, A.G., "Reflection-through-performance: personal implications of documenting health behaviors for the collective," Personal and Ubiquitous Computing 18, 7 (2014), 1737-1752.
Previous work has examined how technology can support health behavior monitoring in social contexts. These tools incentivize behavior documentation through the promise of virtual rewards, rich visualizations, and improved co-management of disease. Social influence is leveraged to motivate improved behaviors through friendly competition and the sharing of emotional and informational support. Prior work has described how by documenting and sharing behaviors in these tools, people engage in performances of the self. This performance happens as users selectively determine what information to share and hide, crafting a particular portrayal of their identity. Much of the prior work in this area has examined the implications of systems that encourage people to share their behaviors with friends, family, and geographically distributed strangers. In this paper, we report upon the performative nature of behavior sharing in a system created for a different social group: the local neighborhood. We designed Community Mosaic (CM), a system with a collectivistic focus: this tool asks users to document their behaviors using photographs and text, but not for their own benefit—for the benefit of others in their community. Through a 6-week deployment of CM, we evaluated the nature of behavior sharing in this system, including participants’ motivations for sharing, the way in which this sharing happened, and the reflexive impact of sharing. Our findings highlight the performative aspects of photograph staging and textual narration and how sharing this content led participants to become more aware and evaluative of their behaviors, and led them to try to eat more healthfully. We conclude with recommendations for behavior monitoring tools, specifically examining the implications of users’ perceived audience and automated behavioral tracking on opportunities for reflection–through–performance.
Parker, A.G., McClendon, I., Grevet, C., Ayo, V., Chung, W., Johnson, V. and Mynatt, E.D. “I Am What I Eat: Identity and Critical Thinking in an Online Forum for Kids,” Proceedings of CHI'13 (2013), 2437-2446.
As kids encounter food advertisements, it is important that they be able to critically evaluate the message’s claims, the healthiness of the promoted product and their desire for it. To explore how technology might help kids develop these skills, we created an online forum called TalkBack that encourages children to critically analyze the messaging in food ads and their attitudes towards marketed foods. We evaluated TalkBack with twenty-eight middle school students in a summer camp program. We discuss how participants appeared to project and protect their sense of self through their interaction with TalkBack. We also describe the limited analytic depth of their forum contributions and suggest directions for HCI research that attempts to encourage critical thinking and health promotion in adolescents.
Parker, A.G., Kantroo, V., Lee, H., Osornio, M., Sharma, M. and Grinter, R.E. “Health Promotion as Activism: Building Community Capacity to Affect Social Change,” Proceedings of CHI'12 (2012), 99-108.
As HCI researchers have designed tools to promote wellness, disease has often been approached as a general problem. In contrast, public health research argues for an activist approach focused on how certain groups disproportionately experience disease and eliminating these disparities. Taking this activist stance, we examine how technology can reduce health inequalities by disrupting power relationships and helping communities pursue social change. We discuss our tool, Community Mosaic (CM), which allows individuals to share their healthy eating ideas with one another as a means of advocating behavior change. Our results characterize how CM helped facilitate activism (i.e., collective efforts to counter local challenges to healthy living) and shift users’ attitudes regarding their role as advocates for health. We contribute to the field of HCI by using our findings to present a set of recommendations for future research focused on designing and evaluating health promotion tools using an activist lens.
Grimes, A., Kantroo, V. and Grinter, R.E. “Let's play!: mobile health games for adults,” Proceedings of Ubicomp'10, 2010, 241-250.
Researchers have designed a variety of systems that promote wellness. However, little work has been done to examine how casual mobile games can help adults learn how to live healthfully. To explore this design space, we created OrderUP!, a game in which players learn how to make healthier meal choices. Through our field study, we found that playing OrderUP! helped participants engage in four processes of change identified by a well-established health behavior theory, the Transtheoretical Model: they improved their understanding of how to eat healthfully and engaged in nutrition-related analytical thinking, reevaluated the healthiness of their real life habits, formed helping relationships by discussing nutrition with others and started replacing unhealthy meals with more nutritious foods. Our research shows the promise of using casual mobile games to encourage adults to live healthier lifestyles.
Grimes, A. and Harper, R., "Celebratory Technology: New Directions for Food Research in HCI," CHI'08 (2008), 467-476.
Food is a central part of our lives. Fundamentally, we need food to survive. Socially, food is something that brings people together-individuals interact through and around it. Culturally, food practices reflect our ethnicities and nationalities. Given the importance of food in our daily lives, it is important to understand what role technology currently plays and the roles it can be imagined to play in the future. In this paper we describe the existing and potential design space for HCI in the area of human-food interaction. We present ideas for future work on designing technologies in the area of human-food interaction that celebrate the positive interactions that people have with food as they eat and prepare foods in their everyday lives.