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Title:A study of hypertext document structure and individual differences: Effects on learning performance
Author(s):Chang, Ching-Tao
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Waugh, Michael L.
Department / Program:Educatio
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Technology of
Education, Curriculum and Instruction
Abstract:This study is an attempt to find out the effects of hypertext document design as well as individual differences on users' attitude and information searching performance. The interaction effects between structure of hypertext documents and individual difference variables were examined. The three types of combinations of structure and menu design were: (a) hierarchical structure signaled by explicit menus and referential links presented by embedded menus (program 1-HXRM), (b) hierarchical structure signaled by embedded menus and referential links presented by embedded menus (program 2-HMRM), and (c) referential links presented by embedded menus without structural information (program 3-RM). The two individual difference variables were: (a) cognitive style: field-dependence versus field-independence, and (b) epistemic beliefs and preferences: simple versus complex.
This study employed a $3\times2$ completely randomized factorial design. The same design was applied to the two individual difference variables separately. Fifty-two students from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign participated in this experiment.
The findings of this study led to the following general conclusions: (1) Cognitive style was found to be an influential factor on users' information searching performances. Field-independent users scored significantly higher than field-dependent users on information searching tasks. Field-independent users especially had advantages over field-dependent users when structural information was not conveyed through interface design in program 3. (2) Users' beliefs about whether knowledge is simple or complex, compartmentalizable or interconnected did not seem to affect their information searching performances in a hypertext environment in this study. (3) Program 1-HXRM (hierarchical links-explicit menus; referential links-embedded menus) produced the most efficient searching with respect to less cards searched, but did not necessarily produce the best search scores. (4) Program 2-HMRM may be a compromise between explicit menus and embedded menus. By clearly signaling hierarchical links without extracting the menu items out of the context, this design may preserve the advantages of both explicit menus and embedded menus. (5) When given a choice between non-linear hypertext and linear links, most novice subjects given simple search tasks chose linear links.
Issue Date:1995
Rights Information:Copyright 1995 Chang, Ching-Tao
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9624305
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9624305

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