Think-Aloud Observations to Improve Online Course Design: A Case Example and How-to Guide Chapter uri icon


  • User-experience (UX) problems in course design can be challenging for students as the web interface mediates most online learning. Yet, UX is often underemphasized in e-learning, and instructional designers rarely receive training on UX methods. In this chapter, the authors first establish the importance of UX in the contexts of both learner experience and pedagogical usability. Next the authors describe their study using think-aloud observations (TAOs) with 19 participants. This TAO study resulted in the identification of the following design principles for maximizing the UX of online courses offered within an LMS: (a) avoid naming ambiguities, (b) minimize multiple interfaces, (c) design within the conventions of the LMS, (d) group related information together, and (e) consider consistent design standards throughout the University. Finally, in this chapter the authors offer specific guidelines and directions to enable others to conduct similar TAO testing within their university context.

author list (cited authors)

  • Gregg, A., Reid, R., Aldemir, T., Gray, J., Frederick, M., & Garbrick, A.

complete list of authors

  • Gregg, A||Reid, R||Aldemir, T||Gray, J||Frederick, M||Garbrick, A

editor list (cited editors)

  • Schmidt, M., Tawfik, A. A., Jahnke, I., & Earnshaw, Y.

Book Title

  • Learner and User Experience Research: An Introduction for the Field of Learning Design & Technology

publication date

  • 2020