My research explores user engagement (UE) with technology. Specifically, I am interested in the conceptual nature of UE (What is it? What attributes of people, systems, and contexts facilitate or detract from engagement? Why do people disengage?), and how to measure it in computer mediated environments.

Over the past several years I have focused on two streams of research: theory and measurement. To this end, I have

  • developed a conceptual Process Model of User Engagement and tested/refined it in different computer-mediated environments
  • created and evaluated the reliability and validity of a 31-item experiential questionnaire, the User Engagement Scale (UES) to measure user engagement with technology.

The UES has been adapted by over 50 international research teams, who have used it to examine UE with educational technologies, search systems, haptic technologies, health and consumer applications, and other media. This work has led to productive collaborations with academic and industry researchers.

My current research projects are focused on the personal and social outcomes of user engagement. This work seeks to inform the design of information systems and contribute further to the measurement of user engagement, but, more importantly, to bring a more nuanced understanding to the impact of engaging technologies on people’s lives. 

Core Research Projects:


STOREE 2018-2021

The Supporting Transparent and Open Research Engagement and Exchange (STOREE) Project supports community-led research initiatives and increases the accessibility of research – thanks to partners at the University of British Columbia (UBC) Library, Simon Fraser University (SFU) Library, UBC Learning Exchange and the BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU).

I, along with my colleagues, aim to make research more accessible and relevant to non-academic audiences, by supporting knowledge sharing between researchers and community groups, and by exploring the roles of librarians and literacy educators in sharing research.

Many university research projects based at UBC, SFU and other institutions are directed at residents and community groups located in the Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) neighbourhood. Residents have voiced concerns about research projects that are extractive, and research findings published behind paywalls that make them inaccessible to the community. UBC’s Learning Exchange founded the Making Research Accessible Initiative (MRAi) in 2015, in collaboration with UBC Library, to try to address these challenges. Most recently, DTES residents and community groups created the Research 101: A Manifesto for Ethical Research in the Downtown Eastside and Empowering Informed Consent cards to bring awareness to issues of cultural production and ethical research engagement within the DTES.

The STOREE project seeks to support these grassroots initiatives and the work of our partners, including the MRAi, who are actively developing strategies and tools to communicate research outside of the university sphere and to promote community priorities to researchers:

  • The Community Scholars Program at SFU Library offers a no-fee gateway for community scholars to access research publications. Currently more than seven publishers, 500 users are accessing materials, and four BC university libraries are involved. STOREE aims to support the long-term evaluation and growth of CSP.
  • The DTES Research Access Portal (RAP), a collaboration of the UBC Learning Exchange and UBC Library, is a digital platform for DTES community members to access the results of scholarly research about their community. STOREE is supporting ongoing efforts to redevelop and evaluate the RAP to better meet the needs of community users.
  • The BCCSU is a leader in substance use research and knowledge dissemination. STOREE is exploring the activities and best practices of BCCSU, and looking at the capacity needed in research teams to do this work effectively.
  • STOREE is also exploring knowledge exchange in the social sciences disciplines, and its relationship to community engagement. We aim to create a framework to guide community-involved scholarship and to build capacity in librarians and literacy educators to undertake this work.

Funded in part by a Partnership Development Grant (PDG) from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the STOREE project’s aim is to find useful and practical solutions that remove barriers to open communication for everyone involved.

Research investigators include myself, Heather O’Brien (PrincipaI investigator – UBC iSchool), Angela Towle (UBC Learning Exchange), Luanne Freund (UBC iSchool), Suzanne Smythe (Simon Fraser University – Faculty of Education), Aleha McCauley (UBC Library) and Heather De Forest (SFU Library).

For more information on the project and its partners, visit the STOREE website.

Antecedents and Learning Outcomes of Exploratory Search Engagement 2016-2019 

This research frames exploratory search as an educational and societal investment. It recognizes that information needs cannot always be reduced to a simple query and multiple sources may be needed to piece together evidence, solve a problem, or make a decision. Through funding from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, we are exploring the intersection of user (e.g., cognitive ability, topic expertise) and task (e.g., complexity) characteristics and learning in exploratory search environments with respect to user engagement. We are developing, using and evaluating subjective and objective measures of UE and learning, with the hope that we will contribute to the robustness of measurement approaches in interactive information retrieval.

This work is supported by a Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) Insight Grant [2016-2019]


What Engages Information Seekers? Predicting User Engagement with Digital Libraries 2015-2017

Funded by: University of British Columbia Faculty of Arts Hampton Research Grant.

User Engagement with Digital Media 2009-2014 

Funded by: Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Graphics, Animation and New Media Project, Network Centre of Excellent (GRAND NCE). 

Designing Digital Use Environments to Support Academic Work 2009-2012
Co-investigators: Dr. Luanne Freund and Dr. Rick Kopak

Funded by: University of British Columbia Faculty of Arts Hampton Research Grant.

Engagement Lab