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IWC Tables of Contents: 01020304050607080910111213141516

Interacting with Computers 6

Editors:Dan Diaper
Dates:1994
Volume:6
Publisher:Butterworth-Heinemann
Standard No:ISSN 0953-5438
Papers:21
Links:Table of Contents
  1. IWC 1994 Volume 6 Issue 1
  2. IWC 1994 Volume 6 Issue 2
  3. IWC 1994 Volume 6 Issue 3
  4. IWC 1994 Volume 6 Issue 4

IWC 1994 Volume 6 Issue 1

Learning to Use a Spreadsheet By Doing and By Watching BIBAK 3-22
  Michael P. Kerr; Stephen J. Payne
An important practical question is: how should instruction for computer skills be designed to facilitate effective learning? The reported study examines the instructional efficacy of animated demonstrations within active and passive learning contexts of teaching basic spreadsheet skills. Four content-matched instructional regimes were compared: the commercially available tutorial (a 'scenario machine'), an animated demonstration of this tutorial being used, and problem-solving supported by either the user manual or a set of task-specific demonstrations. Acquired spreadsheet skills were then tested on a standard task. Results indicate a clear learning advantage of problem-solving, over prompted interaction (the scenario machine).
   The study suggests two distinctive roles that animations could exploit within computer instruction. Simply watching an animated demonstration can provide a useful introduction to complex interfaces; additionally, animations can be an effective 'example following' resource for more active problem-solving.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Training, Animated demonstrations, Problem solving
Effect of Error Information in Tutorial Documentation BIBAK 23-40
  Ard W. Lazonder; Hans van der Meij
In learning to use software, people spend at least 30% of their time on dealing with errors. It could therefore be desirable to exploit users' errors rather than to avoid them. That is, to include error information in a manual to support users in dealing with errors. An experiment was performed to examine the functionality of such error information in a manual for a word processor. Two manuals were compared, one with error information and one from which this information was removed. Forty-two subjects were randomly assigned to one of the two conditions. Subjects who used the manual with error information were expected to become more proficient at using the word processor (i.e. to show better constructive and corrective skills) and to develop more self-confidence. The results were equivocal. On some aspects of skill the error information in the manual led to better performance (i.e. correcting syntactic errors). On others it had an adverse effect (i.e. detection of semantic errors and overall error-correction time). Explanations are advanced for these findings and topics for further research are identified.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Human error, Tutorial documentation, Error information, Corrective skills development
Design and Implementation of a User-Oriented Speech Recognition Interface: The Synergy of Technology and Human Factors BIBAK 41-60
  Sietse H. Kloosterman
The design and implementation of a user-oriented speech recognition interface are described. The interface enables the use of speech recognition in so-called interactive voice response systems which can be accessed via a telephone connection. In the design of the interface a synergy of technology and human factors is achieved. This synergy is very important for making speech interfaces a natural and acceptable form of human-machine interaction. Important concepts such as interfaces, human factors and speech recognition are discussed. Additionally, an indication is given as to how the synergy of human factors and technology can be realised by a sketch of the interface's implementation. An explanation is also provided of how the interface might be integrated in different applications fruitfully.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Interface, Speech recognition, Interactive voice response system
Interacting Cognitive Subsystems: A Framework for Considering the Relationships between Performance and Knowledge Representations BIBAK 61-85
  Alison J. K. Green
The paper has two principal aims. The first is to explore the role played in expertise by information represented in different mental codes. The second is to forge some links between research in the more traditional problem-solving domains and research in the domain of human-computer interaction. Barnard's (1985, 1987) model of human information processing, Interacting Cognitive Subsystems (ICS), is referred to extensively in order to do this. The ICS framework distinguishes several different subsystems, each specialised for processing information represented in particular mental codes. The paper explores the relationships between tasks and different types of mental representations. Examples from traditional problem-solving domains and from the human-computer interaction domain are analysed in terms of their requirements for different classes of mental representations in order to show how the approach provides useful insights into the development of skilled behaviour.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Knowledge representation, Cognitive subsystems
Understanding Usability Issues Addressed by Three User-System Interface Evaluation Techniques BIBAK 86-108
  Donna L. Cuomo; Charles D. Bowen
Three structured judgment evaluation techniques were applied to a system with a graphical direct manipulation style interface, to understand the types of usability problems they address. These evaluation techniques were cognitive walkthrough, heuristic evaluation, and the Smith and Mosier (1986) guidelines. The authors wanted to learn whether the techniques identify problems: across all stages of user activity, which noticeably affect users' performance with the system, and which are important to the usability of direct manipulation-style systems. Results showed that the cognitive walkthrough method identifies issues almost exclusively within the action specification stage, while guidelines covered more stages. The walkthrough was best, however, and the guidelines worst at predicting problems that cause users noticeable difficulty (as observed during a usability study). All the techniques could be improved in assessing semantic distance and addressing all stages on the evaluation side of the HCI activity cycle. To evaluate the directness of engagements, improved or new techniques are needed.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, User interface, Evaluation, Usability, Cognitive walk-through, Guidelines

Author's reply

Reply to Fraser and Wrigley or Definitely Not the Last Word on Language Varieties BIB 109-110
  Jussi Karlgren

IWC 1994 Volume 6 Issue 2

Electronic Bulletin Boards: A Case Study of Computer-Mediated Communication BIBAK 117-134
  Raymond S. Nickerson
Some observational data are presented on the use of an electronic bulletin board that serves a community of users within a single company. The major purposes for which this bulletin board is used are identified and some use patterns are given. Opportunities for human factors research on this technology are discussed.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Computer-mediated communication, Electronic bulletin boards, Electronic mail
Multiple Worlds: An Approach to Multimedia Resource Management Using Truth Maintenance BIBAK 135-150
  A. D. Bray; J. L. Alty
Resource management in a multimedia presentation system is discussed with reference to the PROMISE multimedia presentation system. Because of the complex nature of environments such as process control, designers need to be able to examine the alternative possibilities which arise from their design decisions. The paper describes an approach to this problem using truth maintenance. A tool is described which allows multiple views of competing presentation worlds.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Multimedia, Media alternatives, Resource allocation, Knowledge base, Truth maintenance, PROMISE
Studies of Turn-Taking in Computer-Mediated Communication BIBAK 151-171
  Andy McKinlay; Rob Procter; Oliver Masting; Robin Woodburn; John Arnott
Groupware is designed to provide opportunities for physically dispersed computer users to co-operate in a manner akin to a face-to-face meeting. Little is understood, however, of the factors that might influence its success. One possible factor is 'floor control', or turn-taking, which is an important feature of face-to-face meetings. The paper describes experiments designed to examine the importance of turn-taking in computer-mediated communications, in comparison with face-to-face conversations, and considers means whereby turn-taking behaviour, and hence the effectiveness of groupware, can be improved.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Computer-supported cooperative work, Conversational analysis, Computer-mediated communications, Turn-taking
A Conceptualisation of Multiparty Interaction BIBAK 173-189
  Graham Storrs
An ontology is presented for the field of human-computer interaction (HCI). This amplifies and extends an earlier version of the conceptualisation (Storrs, 1989). The paper argues that such a conceptualisation is a necessary step in the development of theory in HCI and discusses the need for and the nature of such a theory. It is argued that no adequate theory of HCI exists at present and this paper does not attempt to offer one. The model proposed is based on the idea that an interaction is an exchange of information between participating agents through sets of information channels (interfaces) for the purpose of altering their states. These notions are defined and the paper pays particular attention to the concepts of participant, interaction and purpose, describing several different types of participant and the different roles they may play as well as various dimensions and elements of interactions. Finally, the strong and weak points of the conceptualisation are discussed in an attempt to assess its value.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Theoretical model, Multiparty interaction, Computer-supported co-operative work
Development and Validation of Icons Varying in their Abstractness BIBAK 191-211
  Mariano Garcia; Albert N. Badre; John T. Stasko
Icons are used widely in human-computer interfaces. The level of abstractness-concreteness of an icon and its effect upon performance is of widespread interest. The authors have devised a quantitative measure for abstractness based on the complexity of the icon. They test their metric against subjective judgments of abstractness as identified by two different groups of subjects. After ranking two sets of 'abstract' and 'concrete' icons, the authors examined how well the icons were matched to the Pascal constructs that they represented. Further experiments were conducted using different groups of subjects to check whether correct matching of the icons with constructs was influenced by context. In summary the authors found that their metric was a good match for subjective measures of abstractness-concreteness. They also found that there is a better identification of concrete icons than abstract icons. Finally, it was shown that context does affect the correct identification of icons.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Interfaces, Icons, Abstractness-concreteness
Prediction of Pointing and Dragging Times in Graphical User Interfaces BIBAK 213-227
  I. Scott MacKenzie; William Buxton
An experiment is described which demonstrates that the point-drag sequence common on interactive systems can be modelled as two separate Fitts law tasks -- a point-select task followed by a drag-select task. Strong prediction models were built; however, comparisons with previous models were not as close as the standard error coefficients implied. Caution is therefore warranted in follow-up applications of models built in research settings. Additionally, the previous claim that target height is the appropriate substitute for target width in calculating Fitts' index of difficulty in dragging tasks was not supported. The experiment described varied the dragging target's width and height independently. Models using the horizontal width of the drag target or the smaller of the target's width or height outperformed the target height model.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Interaction techniques, Pointing and dragging tasks, Fitts' law, Human performance modelling

IWC 1994 Volume 6 Issue 3

Organisation of Design Activities: Opportunistic, with Hierarchical Episodes BIBAK 235-274
  Willemien Visser
The organisation of actual design activities, even by experts involved in routine tasks, is not appropriately characterised by the retrieval of pre-existing plans, but is opportunistic (possibly with hierarchical episodes at a local level, but not globally hierarchical). Actually executed design actions depend, at each moment t, on the evaluation of actions proposed at t-1. These proposals can be made by pre-established plans, but also by other action-proposal knowledge structures. This position is supported by results from diverse empirical design studies. A major reason why design activities are organised opportunistically is that, even if designers possess plans which they may retrieve and use, the designers very often deviate from these plans so that their activities satisfy action-management constraints, of which the most important is cognitive economy. Two types of variables underlying this opportunism are discussed: situational and processing.
   If design is opportunistically organised, a support system which imposes a hierarchically structured design process will probably handicap designers. Suggestions for systems offering real support are formulated.
Keywords: Organisation, Planning, Design activity
Task-Based Method for Creating Usable Hypertext BIBAK 275-287
  Elizabeth Charnock; Roy Rada; Steve Stichler; Peter Weygant
Although large hypertext documentation systems have many benefits in the commercial world, they can be difficult to build and use. To help overcome both these obstacles, a method under development at Hewlett-Packard assists authors in creating usable hypertext. A Wizard of Oz experiment was done with traditional on-line documentation and hypertext documentation to see what users liked and disliked. The experiment showed the need for a set of hypertext construction rules to ensure usability. Following these rules, and with computer assistance, authors are expected to do a task analysis of users' activities, to identify critical objects and create content nodes for them, to create links between nodes within clearly defined and cognitively justified limits, and to conduct usability tests on the resulting hypertext volume. Whilst this method recognises the importance of good clear writing, the rules and suggested practices are not primarily about writing or screen design, but about creating a coherent navigational web that ensures success among commercial users of hypertext. The authoring system described in this paper has been developed for the HP Help system, which has been adopted as the common help delivery system for developers of Common Open Systems Environments on Unix-like platforms.
Keywords: Hypertext, Authoring documentation, Usability
Comparative Analysis of Task Analysis Products BIBAK 289-309
  Andy Whitefield; Becky Hill
Given the number and variety of task analysis (TA) products in the human-computer interaction literature, it is often difficult to understand exactly what they contain and how they differ from each other. This paper presents a schema for the possible content of a TA product, and uses the schema to examine in detail four particular products. A comparison of these enables the identification of five suggested features for distinguishing between TA products: the psychological status of the behaviours; any fixed behaviours; the number of levels in the decomposition; any fixed levels in the decomposition; and the separation of objects and behaviours. Both the schema and the distinguishing features support the comparative assessment of TA products.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Task analysis, Comparative assessment of TA products
Delivering HCI Modelling to Designers: A Framework and Case Study of Cognitive Modelling BIBAK 311-341
  Simon Buckingham Shum; Nick Hammond
The human-computer interaction (HCI) research community is generating a large number of usability-oriented models and design frameworks. However, a critical factor which will determine whether any of these achieve significant penetration into the real world of software design is the effort required by practitioners to understand and apply them. In short, analytic tools for usability design must themselves be usable. In response to this challenge, we present a framework which identifies four different 'gulfs' between user-centred modelling and design approaches, and their intended users. These gulfs are potential opportunities to support designers if a given analytic approach can be encapsulated in appropriate forms. We then illustrate the framework's application with a concrete example. An evaluation is reported which investigates gulfs associated with an approach which uses an expert system to automate cognitive modelling for human factors designers. An early prototype was evaluated in order to assess the knowledge required to use it. The study demonstrates that whilst this tool does shield users from the complexities of the underlying modelling, they need to understand the way in which it builds its description of the task and user interface. Implications for bridging the different gulfs are then considered.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Cognitive modelling, Evaluation

IWC 1994 Volume 6 Issue 4

Foundations of Multimodal Representations: A Taxonomy of Representational Modalities BIBAK 347-371
  Niels Ole Bernsen
Advances in information technologies are producing a very large number of possible interface modality combinations which are potentially useful for the expression and exchange of information in human-computer interaction. However, a principled basis for analysing arbitrary input/output modality types and combinations as to their capabilities of information representation and exchange is still lacking. The paper presents a generative approach to the analysis of output modality types and their combinations and takes some steps towards its implementation, departing from a taxonomy of generic unimodal modalities of representation. A small number of key properties appear sufficient for creating a taxonomy of generic output modalities which is relatively simple, robust, intuitively plausible and reasonably complete. These (orthogonal) properties are: analogue and non-analogue representations; arbitrary and non-arbitrary representations; static and dynamic representations; linguistic and non-linguistic representations; different media of representation; and modality structure. The work presented is part of the larger research agenda of modality theory.
Keywords: Interfaces, Modalities, Representations
User Interface Design for Older Adults BIBAK 373-393
  J. Morgan Morris
The percentage of older adults is expected to increase to unprecedented levels within the next decade. Little attention has been devoted to understanding, organizing, and accommodating the needs of older adults with respect to interaction with computers. Indeed, most usability studies have focused on the needs of younger adults, to the neglect of the elderly. As computerized products increasingly appeal to broader audiences, the needs of older adults will become a concern for designers. This review focuses on the organization and presentation of characteristics of older adult learners, along with recommendations based on those characteristics, with the hope that their accessibility will enhance designer intuition and provide suitable information to guide user testing.
Keywords: User interfaces, Older adults, Adult education
Interdisciplinary Collaboration: A Case Study of Software Development for Fashion Designers BIBAK 395-410
  Mike Scaife; Eleanor Curtis; Charlie Hill
There is an increasing involvement of different disciplines in requirements capture. However, such collaboration can result in the replacement of one set of problems with another as the priorities of systems designers conflict with those of social science researchers. Some of these difficulties are illustrated by a description of the course of a project to develop a software tool for fashion designers.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Software development, Prototyping
Review of Graphical Notations for Specifying Direct Manipulation Interfaces BIBAK 411-431
  C. H. E. Phillips
At the early stage of interface design, the designer requires models and notations that can assist with reasoning and the exploration of ideas, and which are unconstrained by implementation issues. The review focuses on graphical notations for specifying the underlying behaviour of direct manipulation interfaces. Parallels are drawn with the requirements of notations employed in the more general areas of system requirements specifications. A number of existing graphical notations are compared and contrasted through a common example drawn from the Macintosh interface, and the required scope of an ideal notation for describing the behaviour of direct manipulation interfaces is defined.
Keywords: Direct manipulation, Interface design, Graphical dialogue notations
Structure for User-Oriented Dialogues in Computer-Aided Telephony BIBAK 433-449
  K. Brownsey; M. Zajicek; J. Hewitt
Members of The Speech Project, at Oxford Brookes University, have been experimenting with alternative structures for 'goal-seeking' dialogues. A dialogue prototyping system has been developed that can instantiate different dialogue structures kept on file. These become active after being installed using dynamic data structures. Input is achieved using speech recognition for a small range of words, and output is in the form of pre-recorded speech messages. The dialogues thus created employ a new approach, and replace the usual menu-structure with a simpler question-answer process.
   The nature of dialogues using computer aided telephony is analysed, and then the work done by members of The Speech Project on an alternative approach using a simpler dialogue structure is described.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Computer-aided telephony, Relevance-directed network