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BIT Tables of Contents: 010203040506070809101112131415

Behaviour and Information Technology 5

Editors:Tom Stewart
Publisher:Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Standard No:ISSN 0144-929X
Links:Table of Contents
  1. BIT 1986 Volume 5 Issue 1
  2. BIT 1986 Volume 5 Issue 2
  3. BIT 1986 Volume 5 Issue 3
  4. BIT 1986 Volume 5 Issue 4

BIT 1986 Volume 5 Issue 1

Editorial BIB 1-2
  Tom Stewart
System Response Time Effects on User Productivity BIBA 3-13
  Gale L. Martin; Kenneth G. Corl
The present study tested the proposal that reducing computer system response times from a few seconds to sub-second levels results in dramatic increases in user productivity. Subjects completed data-entry and problem-solving tasks using a computer statistical package, under a range of computer response times from 0.1 to 5 seconds. Results indicated that some increase in productivity does occur as system response time deceases; however, (1) the size of the effect is considerably smaller than previously indicated, (2) the effect occurred only for data entry tasks, disappearing in problem-solving situations and declining in strength as the data-entry task became more complex, and (3) the relationship between response time and productivity was linear rather than exponential, as was indicated previously. These results suggest that an attentional/automatic processing model of the user is more appropriate than a model proposing that users do not need time to think between entries to the computer.
Expert-Novice Differences for Software: Implications for Problem-Solving and Knowledge Acquisition BIBA 15-29
  Woodrow Barfield
Experts differ from non-experts in how they acquire knowledge, solve problems and process information. In the study reported here three levels of program organization (executable order, random lines, random chunks) are manipulated in order to distinguish expert from non-expert (intermediate, novice, naive) performance in a software recall task. Implications for problem-solving and knowledge acquisition are discussed.
Word Processing Technology and Perceptions of Control among Clerical Workers BIBA 31-37
  Anat Rafaeli; Robert I. Sutton
A set of four hypotheses about the relationships between word processor attributes and employee perceptions of control and satisfaction are developed and then tested in a sample of 109 clerical workers. Findings from this preliminary study support the first hypothesis, that electronic word processors, in contrast to typewriters, increase an employee's ability to control his or her work. The second hypothesis, that users of both word processors and typewriters will report the highest levels of control, was not supported. The second part of the study concerns attributes of electronic word processors. The third hypothesis was that employees who use computers that are more dependable, easier to use, and have higher quality screen will report higher levels of control. This hypothesis was only partially supported. Support was found for the fourth hypothesis, that the above trio of computer attributes would be positively related to employee satisfaction with the word processor. Practical implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.
Application of Guidelines for Designing User Interface Software BIBA 39-46
  Jane N. Mosier; Sidney L. Smith
A survey was conducted of people who had received a report on guidelines for designing user interface software. Analysis of questionnaire responses indicates that respondents considered guidelines useful, that they have used guidelines in various stages of design, and that they plan to use guidelines again. However, respondents also reported significant problems in the practical application of guidelines. Respondents had difficulty locating relevant guidelines within the report, choosing which guidelines would actually be used, establishing priorities among the selected guidelines, and translating generally worded guidelines into specific design rules.
Standards versus Guidelines for Designing User Interface Software BIBA 47-61
  Sidney L. Smith
There are significant differences between designing hardware and software for the user interface to computer-based information systems. Formal standards may improve hardware design but may prove ineffective for aiding software design. Our present knowledge supports development of flexible design guidelines for user interface software, but does not justify imposition of standards. Effective application of guidelines will require a process of translation into system-specific design rules, and/or future incorporation into computer-based design algorithms.

Short Paper

Towards an Ergonomic Design of Software BIB 63-70
  Ahmet Cakir
Ergonomic Procurement Guidelines for Visual Display Units as a Tool for Progressive Change BIBA 71-80
  Olov Ostberg; Lennart Moller; Gunnar Ahlstrom
The Swedish Telecommunications Administration (STA) has put together a set of requirement specifications for general purpose Visual Display Units (VDUs), and in particular for VDUs to be used in telephone directory services and similar computer supported customer services. For VDUs based on Cathode Ray Tube technology, a rationale is presented for ergonomic requirements such as dark characters on a light background, a minimum refresh rate of 70Hz, limits for acceptable levels of electric and magnetic field strengths, and full tilt, swivel and height adjustability of the VDU. Standardized measurement methods for e.g. legibility and resolution are needed in further developing the ergonomic procurement process.
How a Real-Life System Stands Up to the Commandments BIBA 81-87
  Bharat Malde
Many expert academics and practitioners have recommended some basic principles of good system design in organizational settings. This paper presents a case-study whose findings relate to many such principles. It is written with no other purpose than to serve as a reminder of these principles to those involved in the business of designing successful systems for human use.
The Role of Graphics in Item Selection from Menus BIBA 89-95
  Paul Muter; Candace Mayson
The present experiment addressed the question of whether the addition of graphics to the alternatives on computer choice pages facilitates user performance. Twenty-one subjects made choices from pages that resemble videotex choice pages. One third of the time the alternatives were displayed in the usual way (Text-Only condition); one third of the time the alternatives were arranged in a nonlinear fashion and each alternative was accompanied by an illustration (Graphics condition); and one third of the time the alternatives were arranged in a nonlinear fashion but there were no illustrations (Control condition). Graphics had no effect on response time, but a reliable effect on accuracy: the error rate in the Graphics condition was half that in the Text-Only condition. Apparently, videotex information providers and other software designers would be well advised to consider adding simple graphics to alternatives on choice pages.

BIT 1986 Volume 5 Issue 2

Editorial BIB 97-98
  Tom Stewart
Space, Colour and Typography on Visual Display Terminals BIBA 99-118
  F. L. Van Nes
Some guidelines are given to meet the observed need for rules about layout, the use of colour and typography on display screens so as to create texts with optimal legibility. Examples of videotex pages are used to illustrate right and wrong layouts, applications of colour and of letter type. The guidelines can be generalized to other types of display such as those used in personal computers and, to a more limited extent, to the use of graphics instead of text. Finally, figures are given on the general public's subjective appreciation of some alternative display layouts.
Strategies and Biases in Human Decision-Making and Their Implications for Expert Systems BIBA 119-140
  Varghese S. Jacob; Larry D. Gaultney; Gavriel Salvendy
This paper reviews the stages of the human decision-making process with an emphasis on evaluation strategies. A comparison between the components utilized in human and computer decision-making is outlined. The role of biases and risk in human decision-making is discussed. Finally, the issue of the impact of human evaluation strategies and biases in the construction and use of expert systems is considered.
Ethical Dilemmas Constraining the Use of Expert Systems BIB 141-143
  Gordon J. Speller; John A. Brandon
Formalizations in Systems Development BIBA 145-155
  Lars Mathiassen; Andreas Munk-Madsen
Formalizations are related both to types of expression and to types of behaviour. The limits to applying formalizations in these two senses are discussed and illustrated by examples from practical systems development. It will be established that formalizations are valuable in some situations, but insufficient in others. The alternative to uncritically using formalizations is that system developers analyse the situations in which they find themselves, and from there plan a combination of a formal and an informal approach.
Content and Representation Effects with Reasoning Tasks in PROLOG Form BIBA 157-168
  T. C. Ormerod; K. I. Manktelow; E. H. Robson; A. P. Steward
Two experiments were carried out to examine human reasoning performance in the context of the logic programming language PROLOG. Two factors, "content" (familiar versus unfamiliar) and "representation" (diagrammatic versus PROLOG-like list) were investigated. Subjects answered questions about hierarchical relationships in each condition. A significant interaction was obtained in both experiments, subjects making fewer errors in the familiar-diagram and unfamiliar-list conditions than in the familiar-list and unfamiliar-diagram conditions.
   It is hypothesized that a lower percentage of correct responses was given in familiar-list and unfamiliar-diagram conditions because the representation of information prevented successful use of an appropriate reasoning strategy. Working memory limitations provide a basis for understanding constraints on reasoning strategies for solving task questions. These strategies may involve either a serial or a spatial solution process. One strategy may require a larger working memory load than another, depending on the representation and content of task information. Implications for PROLOG programming instruction are discussed.

Short Paper

What's on the Menu? The Influence of Menu Content on the Selection Process BIBA 169-172
  Luc Giroux; Rachel Belleau
This paper focuses on the distinction between the selection process in a computer command menu and in an information retrieval menu. We argue that the cognitive processes involved in these two tasks are different and consequently, that performance cannot be explained by the same factors. Preliminary experimental results are presented to support this claim.
The Importance of Item Distinctiveness on Performance Using a Menu Selection System BIBA 173-182
  Jeffrey P. Schwartz; Kent L. Norman
Novice computer users searched an interactive menu system given either an explicit target phrase or a subject-matter topic. Two menus were used: an original menu as designed by a commercial timesharing service and a slightly modified version intended to increase the distinctiveness of same-level items. Subjects acquired knowledge about the system through one of four study methods: trial-and-error exploration, study of a diagram of the menu structure, trial-and-error exploration with documentation, or study of the diagram with documentation. Subjects using the modified menu (a) took less time per problem: (b) found targets in a more direct path: and (c) gave up on fewer problems than subjects using the original menu. These results are consistent with a theory of choice that predicts that decision processes are facilitated by the distinctiveness of the alternatives. Overall the effect of study method was not significant. For highly meaningful menus, type of exposure, whether trial-and-error or study of the global tree, does not seem to matter.
Observations on Meeting Usability Goals for Software Products BIBA 183-193
  John L. Bennett
Making software products more usable has been stated as an industrial, national, and even international goal. Constructive exchanges between those working in universities to build theory and those working in industry to build products have been identified as one way to speed the achievement of this goal Programmes within IBM have encouraged such exchanges. Drawing on my experience in IBM, I outline some of the problems in setting and meeting software usability goals, discuss briefly the nature of collaborative work, and suggest ways to facilitate working together for mutual benefit despite possible differences in culture and purpose.

Book Reviews

"Ergonomics and Health in Modern Offices," edited by Etienne Grandjean BIB 195-198
  James A. Boyless
"New Information Technology in the Education of Disabled Children and Adults," by D. Hawkridge, T. Vincent, and G. Hales BIB 195-198
  Mark Douglas
"Information Systems: Theory and Practice (3e)," by John G. Burch, Jr., Felix R. Strater, and Gary Grudnitski BIB 195-198
  Margaret Rock

BIT 1986 Volume 5 Issue 3

Editorial BIB 201-202
  Tom Stewart
Learning to Use a Word-Processing System as a Function of Training Strategy BIBA 203-216
  Sara J. Czaja; Katka Hammond; James J. Blascovich; Helen Swede
Three training strategies were evaluated for their effectiveness in teaching naive computer users to use a word-processing system. One hundred and thirty five women ranging in age from 25 years to 70 years participated in the study. Subjects were trained using one of three techniques (instructor, manual, computer) to perform basic word-processing tasks. The effectiveness of the training strategies was assessed by examining performance on basic word-processing tasks such as typing a letter or memo and editing an existing file. Results showed that for all subjects, computer-based training was a less effective teaching method than either instructor- or manual-based training. In general, subjects who were trained using the computer-based method attempted and completed fewer tasks, took longer to perform tasks, and also made more errors. These finding demonstrate the need for directing efforts towards the development of appropriate training methods for computer tasks.
Learning Complex Computer Programs BIBA 217-225
  Carl Martin Allwood; Torbjorn Wikstrom
The nature of user's difficulties when learning either a data-base or a spread-sheet program is analysed here. Two subjects for each program were thinking aloud while following the instructions in a written tutorial. One main result was the large number of different difficulties, both procedural and conceptual, experienced by the subjects. A tentative conclusion is that it may not be possible to eliminate these difficulties by making only a small number of changes to the programs. In contrast to earlier studies, mistaken analogies were not a major source of difficulties; for example, the typewriter analogy contributed only to a very small extent. The analyses showed that subjects had more difficulties on the main command level than on the sub-command level. Despite the small number of subjects, a large variation in learning strategy was observed.
Educational Aspects of Television Subtitling in Deaf Education BIBA 227-236
  R. G. Baker; R. I. Damper
The increasing availability of microcomputers and video technology in schools is opening the way towards local 'do-it-yourself' video subtitling facilities. Over the last five years, many teachers of deaf children have begun to recognize the educational benefits of subtitled television, but the means for effective, yet low-cost, subtitling did not exist. Building on our earlier experience with broadcast-teletext subtitling we initiated work, funded by the Mountbatten Memorial Trust, to fulfill this need.
   To gauge the extent of interest in local subtitling, and to gather design data for the project, a national survey of the uses of television and related media in the education of deaf children was undertaken. Existing methods of adapting educational broadcasts to provide access for deaf children were of particular interest in the survey.
   As a result of our work, a prototype low-cost subtitling system has been developed, based on video and computer equipment already widely available in schools. Technical details of the system are described in the companion paper. A programme of technical evaluation of the equipment in schools for the deaf and units for hearing impaired children (attached to mainstream and special schools) has just been concluded. A feature of this work has been the close collaboration with teachers of the deaf. As a result of these trials, a commercial system is being produced and guidelines for effective educational subtitling are starting to emerge.
Technical Aspects of Television Subtitling in the Education of the Deaf BIBA 237-248
  R. P. Dudley; A. C. Downton; R. W. King
This paper describes the research and development which has led to the design of a modular low-cost, high-quality subtitling system based predominantly upon widely available consumer components and intended to produce open or closed captions on standard video cassette recorders.
   The only non-standard components of the system are a special-purpose video display mixer for combining text and picture information, and a suite of software which fully supports the subtitle preparation process. The software is menu-based for use by inexperienced users and allows any user who can type to produce high-quality teletext format subtitles. The display mixer can be upgraded to provide facilities for downloading broadcast subtitles, teletext pages and telesoftware.
   Four prototype units have been built and have undergone extensive evaluation in schools for the deaf and partially hearing units. Feedback from the evaluation has resulted in a finalized design which should be available commercially in 1986.
User Navigation in Complex Database Systems BIBA 249-257
  D. Canter; J. Powell; J. Wishart; C. Roderick
Building on earlier work in which user interaction with complex databases is conceptualized in terms of 'navigation', the present study investigates users' navigational strategies and the implications for navigation of different control options (front-ends). A pilot study which gave subjects three control options showed that such a free choice caused confusion and hence the advantages of all the available options were not explored. In a second study, subjects were provided with only two control options in two separate conditions. Behaviour and performance were investigated with regard to different methods of information retrieval form a page-based system of property descriptions. In Condition 1 the control options were Direct Addressing and Linked Addressing, in Condition 2 the options were Direct Addressing and Parsed Search. Results indicate that a system of Linked Addressing (following signposts) was the most effective control option and that the different front-ends promoted the adoption of different navigational strategies.
A Quantitative Assessment of Changes in Work Activities Resulting from Computer-Assisted Design BIBA 259-271
  Ann Majchrzak; Paul Collins; Dave Mandeville
In an effort to understand how computer-assisted design (CAD) can be optimized in an organizational setting, perceptions and attitudes of CAD users about their jobs and workplace are compared with those of non-users. Results indicate that the implementation of CAD may not result in the expected benefits if CAD is not appropriately managed. Job unpredictability, job autonomy, and job interdependence are three areas in particular needing management attention if CAD benefits are to be achieved.
Layout Simulation for Keyboards BIBA 273-281
  Issachar Gilad; Moshe A. Pollatschek
The oldest element on any personal computer is the keyboard: its design (the spatial position of the keys in relation to each other) and its layout (the assignment of letters, numerals, and other signs to keys). The are exactly the same as on the first typewriters of over 100 years ago...or are they? The layout has been the topic of improvement for more than 70 years but no real change has materialized. We contribute to the efforts of layout reformers in Pollatschek et al. (1986).
   In this paper, we introduce a simple simulation tool for evaluating layout, while in an accompanying communication we advise on a cheap and effective way to convert any given layout to any desired one.
The Customizable Keyboard BIBA 283-287
  Moshe A. Pollatschek; Issachar Gilad
The need for deviations from the widely accepted QWERTY keyboard layout of usual office typewriters or workstations has been discussed in our twin paper (Gilad et al. 1986). In this paper we examine a related issue: How to customize any keyboard to a given application, cheaply and effectively. We here discuss this issue and establish why such customization is necessary and how modern technology and keyboard design solve half the problem.

Book Reviews

"Dichotomies of the Mind: A Systems Science View of the Mind and Personality," by Walter Lowen BIB 291-298
  John Benjafield
"Information Technologies and Social Transformation," edited by Bruce R. Guile BIB 291-298
  D. J. Pullinger
"Human-Computer Interaction. Volume 1. Advances in Human Factors/Ergonomics," edited by G. Salvendy BIB 291-298
  Murray A. Sinclair
"Vehicles: Experiments in Synthetic Psychology," by Valentino Braitenberg BIB 291-298
  David Fryer
"Fundamentals of Human-Computer Interaction," edited by Andrew Monk BIB 291-298
  Jakob Nielsen

BIT 1986 Volume 5 Issue 4

Editorial BIB 299-300
  Tom Stewart
A Workshop on Spatial and Temporal Visual Aspects of VDUs BIBA 301-307
  Peter J. Haubner
This article outlines the background to a workshop on selected aspects of VDU work. The aims of the workshop are set out, and various data and views discussed concerning the topics of contrast perception, flicker perception and adaptation. The paper should harmonize with the individual contributions which follow. Experts from both standardization committees and universities took part in the workshop.
Visibility Aspects of VDUs in Term of Contrast and Luminance BIBA 309-333
  S. Kokoschka
Characters on VDUs exhibit specific problems in terms of contrast and visibility evaluation. The photometric properties of CRT displays were analysed, resulting in the specification of local inner, local outer and mean character contrasts. On the basis of search experiments as well as of subjective appraisals it is shown that the inner detail contrast of characters is the determinant for the effect of contrast on visual performance and acceptance. The inner contrast also provides an adequate criterion to optimize the adjustment of contrast, including the effects of lighting in the room. In order to evaluate the visibility level of VDU characters an analytical model is presented based on the threshold numbers between critical character details. Recommendations are given for optimized adjustments of character contrast and background luminance.
Ergonomic Aspects of Image Polarity BIBA 335-348
  Uwe Pawlak
The following paper deals with the question of whether VDUs with positive polarity or negative polarity are preferable from the ergonomic point of view. It discusses to what extent conditions are improved or impaired by changing the image polarity, using the visual performance and the sensitivity to interference as indicators. The basic visual functions of the user, adaptation flicker sensitivity, contrast sensitivity and visual acuity, are less influenced by changing the polarity than would be expected from classical investigations. The sensitivity to interference by reflections of environmental light on the VDU decreases. Because of the lower conspicuity of interference on VDUs with positive polarity, the design of VDU workplaces becomes more flexible. Together with a higher acceptance by the user, positive polarity will represent an ergonomic improvement in comfort.
An Analytical Method for Predicting Perceived Flicker BIBA 349-358
  Joyce E. Farrell
A method is described for predicting whether a visual display terminal (VDT) will appear to flicker given the display phosphor persistence, refresh frequency, luminance and other environmental factors such as the distance between the user and the VDT. Based of research on human temporal sensitivity (Kelly 1969), one can predict the maximum screen luminance and the minimum refresh frequency that will generate a flicker-free display for a theoretical standard observer. These predictions are tested across a range of refresh frequencies, screen luminance, screen phosphors and individual users.
A Practical Guide to Flicker Measurement: Using the Flicker-Matching Technique BIBA 359-373
  Bernice E. Rogowitz
We have developed an empirical technique for measuring perceived flicker on refresh displays. This technique is based in vision science, is technology independent and has proved to be a useful tool in display development and product assurance. It has been used to evaluate a large number of displays varying in size, luminance, refresh rate, phosphor decay and colour. In this paper we describe the flicker-matching technique (FMT) and provide detailed information on its operation. In the IBM flicker-matching technique, observers of known flicker sensitivity compare the amount of flicker on the display to the amount of flicker on a standard light. The temporal frequency of the standard light is then varied until the display and light appear to flicker equally. We measure this 'matching frequency' at three levels of display contrast. In the 'standard test' version of this technique, we distil a figure of merit for each display based on the performance of observers in the top 5 per cent of the population. This figure of merit corresponds well with field reports and success in receiving a 'safety label' from the German TCA (Berufsgenossenschaft).
Retinal Adaptation to Non-Uniform Fields: Average Luminance or Symbol Luminance? BIBA 375-379
  Bruce A. Rupp; Stanley E. Taylor
Various lighting and video display terminal design recommendations have been based on the assumption that the eye adapts to the average luminance of the field being viewed. Other evidence suggests that for irregular patterns the eye adapts to a level biased toward the peak luminance in the field being viewed. Subjects in this study adapted to uniform fields of varying average luminance and to two test patterns, one of which (dots) had a peak luminance equal to the brightest uniform field and an average luminance equal to the least bright uniform field. Time to respond to a test pattern following adaptation to dots was intermediate between the two extreme uniform fields, but closer to that of the brighter field which had an average luminance equal to the test pattern's peak luminance. For that reason, proposed lighting differences based on image polarity or recommendations of positive image polarity do not appear to be warranted.

Book Reviews

"Advances in Human Factors/Ergonomics. Volume 2. Human-Computer Dialogue Design," edited by Roger W. Ehrich and Robert C. Williges BIB 381-384
  Martin Maguire; Dale Hewitt
"Communicating Technical Information: A New Guide to Current Uses and Abuses in Scientific and Engineering Writing," by Robert R. Rathbone BIB 381-384
  Margaret Mann