Research Areas

My research focuses on how novices can participate in (and even) drive processes previously reserved for experts. To achieve this vision, I study, design, and develop technology to scaffold novice activities, to help large communities make sense of their collective problems, and create tools to aid the facilitation of these large design efforts. Check out D4SD and NatureNet as two examples.

Community-driven Design

While social computing tools have the potential to broaden access to design activities and can ease the burden on expert facilitators and organizers, these tools have the potential to strip participants of their agency and ability to drive the process. I study and build tools that preserve peoples’ agency in identifying and addressing THEIR own problems.

Examples: D4SD, Canvas, NatureNet

Scaffolding Novice Design Work

Currently, many products and services don't meet the needs of every user. They're designed for the masses. To develop more inclusive products, everyone needs to be involved. This work focuses on systems and techniques that help novices get involved in the expert processes. How might we provide just in time training and support that is baked into the design experience for novices?

Examples: ProbLib, CoNotate, Active Search

Visualizing Civic Problems at Scale

As communities gather to solve problems, scale quickly becomes a challenge. By leveraging concepts and techniques from crowdsourcing, machine learning, and information visualization—we can create tools that support collaborative community interpretation and sensemaking

Examples: Design Patterns, Curri, DS Explorer

Student-driven Learning Analytics

Learning analytics are often developed for teachers and administrators. In the worst cases, these approaches are more similar to learner surveillance than analytics. How might we democratize these tools so that they can be used by students to improve their learning in self-directed ways?

Examples: IneqDetect, Reflection Analytics

Social Computing for the Future of Work

Work is increasingly dynamic, decentralized, and multi-disciplinary. This raises new challenges related to learning and coordination. This work focuses on new coordination methods for multiple teams with diverse skillsets. We're currently studying design managers, design facilitators, and event organizers.

Examples: coming soon

Research and Publications

Go to Google Scholar for a full list of my papers. They do a better job organizing my publications than I could (or care to).

As an HCI researcher, my work is very multidisciplinary. My research broadly draws from the fields of participatory design, social computing, learning sciences, data science, and information visualization. These research directions are not mutually exclusive research directions and often feature significant overlap. You can use the filters below to explore my projects.

participatory design
just-in-time learning
reflection and sensemaking
Generating Code Explanations using Large Language Models
Constructing design galleries via feature extraction and semantic clustering
S. MacNeil, A. Tran, D. Mogil, S. Bernstein, E. Ross, F. Huang
ProbMap: Automatically constructed design galleries
Constructing design galleries via feature extraction and semantic clustering
S. MacNeil, Z. Ding, K. Quan, Z. Huang, K. Chen, S. Dow
ProbLib: Helping Novices to Frame Better Problems
Scaffolding to structurally decompose the problem framing process
S. MacNeil, Z. Ding, K. Quan, T. Parashos, Y. Sun, S. Dow
ACM C&C 2021
End-User Design in Canvas
A mixed-methods analysis of Canvas LMS Design Ideas
S. MacNeil, Z. Ding, A. Boone, A. Grubbs, S. Dow
CoNotate: Adaptive Query Suggestions Support Learning
Using context from designers' notes to inform search
S. Palani, Z. Ding, A. Nguyen, A. Chuang, S. MacNeil, S. Dow
ACM CHI 2021
The Active Search Hypothesis
A study of creative workers' notetaking and searching behaviors
S. Palani, Z. Ding, S. MacNeil, S. Dow
D4SD: Design for San Diego
A regional civic designathon
S. MacNeil, B. McInnis, J. Taylor, S. Dow, E. Hekler, M. Morris
In Progress
Curri: Visualizating the Curriculum
Visualizing students' pathways through the curriculum
S. MacNeil, M. Dorodchi, E. Al-Hossami, A. Benedict, MJ Mahzoon, D. Desai
ASEE 2020, IEEE FIE 2018
IneqDetect: Visualizing Student Conversations
Supporting group reflection in contingent contexts like collaboration
S. MacNeil, K. Kiefer, D. Takle, B. Thompson, C. Latulipe
ACM CompEd '19
Reflection Analytics
Integrating affect into learning analytics
FIE '18, FIE '19
Educational Design Patterns
Mapping out our departments' teaching patterns
N. Dehbozorgi, S. MacNeil, ML Maher, M. Dorodchi
FIE '18, Book Chapter '20
Nature Net: Designing with and for the Crowd
Studying Design Cognition in Online Crowd Innovation
S. MacNeil, S. Abdellahi, ML Maher, J. Kim, MJ Mahzoon, K. Grace
DCC '18
Swish Sleeve
A system that records and visualizes arm movement
Nature Net
Participatory design and citizen science
H. Killen, T. Clegg, J. Kim, S. MacNeil, J. Preece, ML. Maher, T. Yeh
In Progress
#Talk @Plants
Raspberry Pi waters your plants from Twitter
Dimensional Reasoning
An app for dimensionalizing conceptual spaces
S. MacNeil, J. Okerlund, C. Latulipe
ACM C&C '17, ACC ICCC '17
Distributed Lightweight Teams
Studying face-to-face and online collaboration
S. MacNeil, C. Latulipe, A. Yadav
A configurable survey app with embedded videos
Genetic Algorithms
Using functional programming for curve fitting
Machine Learning Tutorials
Documentation for my machine learning libraries
A system for visualizing data-structure assignments
UIST Website
Developed website and branding
Social Fitness
A social media platform for runners
Visualization Mosaics
A framework for building visualization dashboards
S. MacNeil, N. Elmqvist
Computer Graphics Forum '13