Our Projects

The TAGteam consists of talented individuals with backgrounds in computer science, engineering, human-computer interaction, human factors, graphic and interface design, psychology and sociology.

Tangra

Defining and Supporting Online Studies and Randomized Controlled Trials

Online experimentation decreases the financial and logistical burdens associated with in-person lab protocols. The ability to conduct rigorous studies online is especially beneficial when studying vulnerable or geographically disparate populations, or when commuting to a lab over an extended period of time could cause participant attrition and increased dropout rates.

We present Tangra, a portal for conducting randomized controlled trial experiments online. Built in the Django web application framework, Tangra supports investigators in designing studies, populating them with participants, and managing their progress from initial consent through assessment and intervention to debriefing.

Originally conceived as a tool to facilitate mental fitness research and interventions, Tangra tracks participant progress through a linear sequence of stages (e.g., consent, assessment, intervention, debriefing). Different groups can be assigned to different sequences of stages (e.g., Latin square counterbalancing) or to different stages altogether (e.g., intervention vs control). Stages may be administered as many times as required, and each one may be an in-house HTML page or any third-party application capable of making HTTP POST requests.

Features:

  • XML configuration files define stages, set the order in which they are administered and generate participant usernames and passwords.
  • Clean, attractive Web interface for participants, as well as additional data management tools for experimenters.
  • Public API for third-party integration that includes documentation and working examples.

Tangra In Use:

  • 2011: Velian Pandeliev’s Master’s work was a between-subjects study comparing two mental fitness games to two casual board games. Fifteen seniors recruited online completed ten 45-minute sessions over the course of a month.
  • 2012-present: Prof. Yaakov Stern (Columbia University) is studying the efficacy of aerobic exercise and gameplay on cognition in healthy seniors. 30-day experiment includes 4 exercise sessions and 12 online gaming sessions.
  • 2014: Velian Pandeliev is conducting a study of reading habits in computer science graduate and undergraduate students. The study (N=35) invloves filling out daily forms over a 3-week period.

Publications

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