James Prather, Ph.D.

Professor · Researcher · Mentor · Design Thinker

I care about people and their experience with technology. I've been an award-winning UX teacher and researcher since 2013.

View my ACU Faculty Profile and my Google Scholar page.

Portfolio

Click the cards below to read detailed case studies.

iHeart Media Zetta Cloud

Coming Soon: iHeart Media - Zetta Cloud (2020)

Redesigning the future of the radio control room. (compiling case study now!)

iHeart Media - Campaign Recap (2019)

Helping account executives provide a better final recap to advertisers.

Faithlife - Child Check-In (2018)

Including parents in the spiritual development of their children while keeping the kids safe.

Experience

Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Human-Computer Interaction

Abilene Christian University

I teach three courses per semester while I am actively involved in serving the university, mentoring students, working on my personal research, and overseeing student research. I started in the Fall of 2013 as an instructor and in the Fall of 2018 I moved up to Assistant Professor after completing my Ph.D.

August 2013 - Present

Senior UX Researcher

iHeart Media

I work full-time during summers and part-time during the school year. I perform user interviews, observations, qualitative and quantitative data analaysis. I create personas, journey maps, user flows, and wireframes. I have also led a project and directed the work of a junior UX designer. Check out the portfolio examples above for examples of my work.

Testimonials:

"Thanks for spending a summer with us at iHeart, you really made a difference." - Steve Mills, Global CIO, iHeartMedia

"Thanks for the great UX sessions. I really enjoyed them. And love all the good examples." - Laura Osorio, Senior UX Designer, iHeartMedia

May 2019 - Present

UX Researcher

Faithlife

I spent the summer of 2018 as a UX researcher for Faithlife, helping lead problem and solutions discovery, design, and user testing for a brand new product. Click the document with magnifiying glass below to see my portfolio artifacts generated from this job.

Testimonials:

"10/10 would hire full time." - Leah Bradford, Faithlife UX Designer

May 2018 - August 2018

Web Experience Manager

Eastern European Mission

Managed all web properties, including server administration, creating new web sites, redesigning old web sites, and coordinating online fundraising.

June 2010 - November 2012

Software Developer

Halff Associates

Developed web and desktop applications to support the work of civil engineers using C, C#, and PHP.

May 2006 - June 2010

Education

Ph.D. in Computer Science

Nova Southeastern University
Computer Science, Human-Computer Interaction
Dissertation: Beyond Automated Assessment: Building Metacognitive Awareness in Novice Programmers in CS1
May 2018

Master of Arts in Old Testament

Abilene Christian University
Second Temple Judaism, Dead Sea Scrolls, Hebrew
Thesis: (En)visioning Resistance: Applications of the Battlefield Myth in the War Scroll as a Window into the Theological Development of the Community (link)
May 2015

Master of Divinity

Abilene Christian University
Ministry, Greek, New Testament Textual Criticism, Syriac
May 2014

Master of Science in Applied Cognition and Neuroscience

University of Texas at Dallas
Human-Computer Interaction, Cognitive Science, Neuroscience, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning
December 2009

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

Oklahoma Christian University
May 2006

Peer Reviewed Articles & Research

I conduct research on a variety of topics. As a human-computer interaction researcher, I'm interested in how humans use technology, which can take place in many different contexts. Right now I'm working on metacognition in novice programmers, human factors and design of programming error messages, and usable privacy and security. I am also the sponsor and research mentor for the SIGCHI Local Chapter at ACU, which conducts research that I oversee.

My Research

2021

On Designing Programming Error Messages for Novices: Readability and its Constituent Factors  (May, 2021)
Paul Denny, James Prather, Brett A. Becker, Catherine Mooney, John Homer, Zachary Albrecht, Garrett Powell
Proceedings of the 2021 ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI'21)
Peer-reviewed publication with 26.3% acceptance rate

Towards Assessing the Readability of Programming Error Messages  (February, 2021)
Brett A. Becker, Paul Denny, James Prather, Raymond Pettit, Robert Nix, Catherine Mooney
Proceedings of the 2021 ACM Australasian Computing Education Research Conference (ACE '21)
Peer-reviewed publication with 35% acceptance rate

2020

What Do We Think We Think We Are Doing?: Metacognition and Self-Regulation in Programming [link]   (August, 2020)
James Prather, Brett A. Becker, Michelle Craig, Paul Denny, Dastyni Loksa, Lauren Margulieux
Proceedings of the 2020 ACM Conference on International Computing Education Research (ICER '20)
Peer-reviewed publication with 22% acceptance rate
  • Best Paper Award

Error Message Readability and Novice Debugging Performance [link]   (June, 2020)
Paul Denny, James Prather, Brett A. Becker
Proceedings of the Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education conference (ITiCSE ’20)
Peer-reviewed publication with 28% acceptance rate
  • Best Paper Finalist

2019

Compiler Error Messages Considered Unhelpful: The Landscape of Text-Based Programming Error Messages [link]   (December, 2019)
Brett A. Becker, Paul Denny, Raymond Pettit, Durell Bouchard, Dennis J. Bouvier, Brian Harrington, Amir Kamil,
Amey Karkare, Chris McDonald, Peter-Michael Osera, Janice L. Pearce, and James Prather.
Proceedings of the Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education conference (ITiCSE ’19)
Peer-reviewed publication

A Closer Look at Metacognitive Scaffolding: Solving Test Cases Before Programming [link]   (November, 2019)
Paul Denny, James Prather, Brett Becker, Zachary Albrecht, Dastyni Loksa and Raymond Pettit
Proceedings of the 19th Koli Calling International Conference on Computing Education Research (Koli Calling '19)
Peer-reviewed publication with 37% acceptance rate

Unexpected Tokens: A Review of Programming Error Messages and Design Guidelines for the Future [link]   (July, 2019)
Brett A. Becker, Paul Denny, Raymond Pettit, Durell Bouchard, Dennis J. Bouvier, Brian Harrington, Amir Kamil,
Amey Karkare, Chris McDonald, Peter-Michael Osera, Janice L. Pearce, and James Prather.
Proceedings of the Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education conference (ITiCSE ’19)
Peer-reviewed publication

BEST PAPER AT SIGCSE 2019 IN THE CS EDUCATION TRACK: First things first: providing metacognitive scaffolding for interpreting problem prompts [link]   (June, 2019)
James Prather, Raymond Pettit, Brett Becker, Paul Denny, Dastyni Loksa, Alani Peters, Zachary Albrecht, and Krista Masci
ACM Inroads 10 (2), 42-49
Re-print in official ACM magazine

First Things First: Providing Metacognitive Scaffolding for Interpreting Problem Prompts [link]   (February, 2019)
James Prather, Raymond Pettit, Brett Becker, Paul Denny, Dastyni Loksa, Alani Peters, Zachary Albrecht, and Krista Masci
Proceedings of the 2019 ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE)
Peer-reviewed publication with 32% acceptance rate.
  • 1st Place Best Paper Award

2018

Metacognitive Difficulties Faced by Novice Programmers in Automated Assessment Tools [link]   (August, 2018)
James Prather, Raymond Pettit, Kayla McMurry, Alani Peters, John Homer, and Maxine Cohen
Proceedings of the 2018 ACM Conference on International Computing Education Research (ICER)
Peer-reviewed publication with 22% acceptance rate.

Beyond Automated Assessment: Building Metacognitive Awareness in Novice Programmers in CS1 [link]   (May, 2018)
James Prather
Doctoral dissertation
Committee Members: Maxine Cohen (chair), Raymond Pettit, and Michael Laszlo

2017

On Novices’ Interaction with Compiler Error Messages: A Human Factors Approach [link]   (August, 2017)
James Prather, Raymond Pettit, Kayla McMurry, Alani Peters, John Homer, Nevan Simone, and Maxine Cohen
Proceedings of the 2017 ACM Conference on International Computing Education Research (ICER)
Peer-reviewed publication with 27% acceptance rate.

Trust Management for Cheating Detection in Distributed Massively Multiplayer Online Games [link]   (June, 2017)
James Prather, Robert Nix, Ryan Jessup
15th Annual Workshop on Network and Systems Support for Games (NetGames) in cooperation with ACM SIGMM and ACM SIGCOMM
Peer-reviewed publication with 33% acceptance rate.

Automated Assessment Tools: Too Many Cooks, Not Enough Collaboration [link]   (March, 2017)
Raymond Pettit and James Prather
Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges 32(4)
Peer-reviewed publication.


Student Research from My Lab

The following papers were written by undergraduate students that I mentored or from the SIGCHI local chapter that I sponsor.

Learned Helplessness and Mental Health Issues Related to Distance Learning Due to COVID-19  (May, 2021)
Adam Garcia, Garrett Powell, Davis Arnold, Luis Ibarra, Matthew Pietrucha, Michael Thorson, Abigail Verhelle, Nathan Wade, Samantha Webb
Extended Abstracts of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '21)
Peer-reviewed publication with 50% acceptance rate

Facts and Stories in Phishing Training: A Replication and Extension  (April, 2020)
John Marsden, Zachary Albrecht, Paula Berggren, Jessica Halbert, Kyle Lemons, Anthony Moncivais, Matthew Thompson
Extended Abstracts of the 2020 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '20)
Peer-reviewed publication with 29% acceptance rate

Using Parsons Problems to Scaffold Metacognitive Awareness  (March, 2020)
John Marsden
Proceedings of the 51st ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE '20)
Peer-reviewed publication

Print (“Good Luck!”): Measuring the Effect of Autogenerated Social Encouragement on Student Anxiety  (April, 2018)
Collin Blanchard, Holly Buff, Travis Cook, Raquel Dottle, Gideon Luck, Alani Peters, Virginia Pettit, Isaak Ramirez, and Jessica Wininger
Extended Abstracts of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '18)
Peer-reviewed publication with 50% acceptance rate

The Role of Chronology in Analyzing Introductory Programming Assignments  (Feb, 2016)
Kayla Holcomb McMurry, Nevan Simone
Proceedings of the 47th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE '16)
Peer-reviewed publication
  • 1st Place Student Research Competition


Monographs

The Gospel of John According to the Syriac Peshitta Version with English Translation  (2014)
Jeff W. Childers and James Prather
Gorgias Press, Piscataway, NJ
Invited monograph

Interests

I'm a husband and father of four kids, so when I'm not at work, I'm usually hanging out with my family, going on adventures with them, or travelling. I love travelling. My wife and I were study abroad sponsors to Oxford during the summer of 2017 (I kept a daily travel blog if you'd like to see what that was like). I've travelled internationally to attend conferences and present research. I'm also a committed Christian who believes in living the words of Jesus ("love your neighbor as yourself"), the words of the prophets ("do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien, or the poor"), and the words of Paul ("do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves"). I think Christianity calls for inclusion and Jesus models that behavior. I enjoy a good theological discussion. I also enjoy combining my two interests, Computer Science and religion, into work in Digital Humanities and am part of a three-year grant project to perform data analysis on ancient Ethiopic manuscripts of the Old Testament.

In the rare moment that I have downtime, I enjoy playing video games with my students (mostly Blizzard's Overwatch), playing D&D with friends, reading a good fantasy/steampunk/sci-fi novel, or writing my own novel (yeah, everyone is writing a novel).

Awards

Research:

  • Best Paper Award, ICER, 2020 (link)
  • Best Paper Finalist, ITiCSE, 2020 (link)
  • Best Paper Award, SIGCSE, 2019 (link)

Teaching:

  • Teacher of the Year, School of Information Technology and Computing, 2020
  • Undergraduate Research Mentor of the Year (STEM), ACU Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, 2018
  • Teacher of the Year, School of Information Technology and Computing, 2017
  • Teacher of the Year, School of Information Technology and Computing, 2015
  • Exceptional Leadership and Dedication Award (2013)
A Haiku written about me:

Goateed professor
A superb educator
Damn fine researcher

-Josh M., UX Designer @ iHeartMedia