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International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction 11

Editors:Kay M. Stanney; Gavriel Salvendy
Publisher:Ablex Publishing Corporation
Standard No:ISSN 1044-7318
Links:Table of Contents
  1. IJHCI 1999 Volume 11 Issue 1
  2. IJHCI 1999 Volume 11 Issue 2
  3. IJHCI 1999 Volume 11 Issue 3
  4. IJHCI 1999 Volume 11 Issue 4

IJHCI 1999 Volume 11 Issue 1

Toward an Information Society for All: HCI Challenges and R&D Recommendations BIBA 1-28
  Constantine Stephanidis; Gavriel Salvendy
This article reports on the results of the second meeting and workshop of the International Scientific Forum, "Towards an Information Society for All," that took place in Crete, Greece, June 15-16, 1998. In particular, it elaborates on the international research and development agenda (Stephanidis et al., 1998), which resulted from the first meeting and workshop of the Forum in San Francisco, California, on August 29, 1997, in the context of the HCI International '97 Conference. This article elaborates on the proposed re-earch and development agenda by identifying human-computer interaction chal-enges and clusters of concrete recommendations for international collaborative research and technological development (RTD) activities. Four clusters of recommendations are proposed. The first three facilitate reaching technological targets, and the fourth comprises accompanying measures. The three technological clusters concern the corresponding transitions from (a) productivity tools to environments of use, (b) individual users to communities of users, and (c) computer-assisted business tasks to computer-mediated human activities. The fourth cluster covers support (horizontal) actions needed to establish a favorable environment for the creation of an information society acceptable to all citizens. Each cluster is elaborated by means of specific recommendations, plausible RTD objectives, and likely or expected outcomes.
Implications for Design of Computer Interfaces for Chinese Users in Mainland China BIBA 29-46
  Yee-Yin Choong; Gavriel Salvendy
This study investigates the effects of cultural differences on computer performance of Chinese and American users and the design of appropriate interfaces for Chinese users. Past research documents the cognitive and cultural differences between the Chinese and the American populations. Those include cognitive style differences (Chinese as concrete and American as abstract) and thinking process differences (Chinese as thematic and American as functional). An experiment was conducted to investigate these differences, in which 40 Chinese participants residing in Mainland China and 40 American participants participated. The independent variables were knowledge representation (abstract and concrete) and interface structure (functional and thematic) of an information system. Results indicate that, for the Chinese participants, advantages were associated with concrete representation and with thematic structure in terms of initial performance time, but the advantages vanished for later performance due to learning. There were also advantages associated with thematic structure in terms of error rate throughout experimental trials.
An Analysis of the Performance and Usability of a Software User Coach for Navy Manpower Planning BIBA 47-69
  Jean MacMillan; B. Charles Tatum; Barbara Freeman; Gary A. Ropp
Advances in user interface design have made it possible to improve the effectiveness of complex software tools. This study explores the feasibility of improving user performance on a manpower-planning task by employing a user coach. A user coach is a software aid, often built directly into software applications, that assists the user at critical stages. The user coach developed for this project closely resembles the "wizards" that are commonly used in commercial software today. The user coach was applied to a software application known as SKIPPER, a manpower modeling tool employed by the Department of the Navy to plan and manage the enlisted personnel. In addition to procedural assistance, the coach also provides a visual picture of the planning process based on a hydraulic metaphor (e.g., manpower planning as a series of holding tanks, faucets, pipes, valves, etc.). This article describes the user coach, and documents a formal evaluation of its effectiveness. The evaluation compared the use and understanding of SKIPPER (a) with the coach, (b) with the coach and the visual metaphor, and (c) without the coach or the metaphor. All users (experienced and inexperienced) were able to complete their planning task significantly faster using the coach than using SKIPPER unaided. Neither performance on the task, nor the user's understanding of manpower planning, was influenced by providing a visual picture (the hydraulic metaphor) of the process. It appears that users found the procedural (what to do) aids useful, but aids designed to help the user understand the purpose and dynamics (why do it) of the task were not effective.

IJHCI 1999 Volume 11 Issue 2

Can a More Neutral Position of the Forearm When Operating a Computer Mouse Reduce the Pain Level for Visual Display Unit Operators? A Prospective Epidemiological Intervention Study BIBA 79-94
  Arne Aaras; Ola Ro; Magne Thoresen
In a field study, a newly developed mouse that gives the operator a more neutral forearm position was compared with a traditional mouse using a more pronated forearm. After using the new mouse for 6 months, a significant reduction was reported regarding pain intensity and frequency for wrist/hand, forearm, shoulder, and neck (p < .009). The control group using the traditional mouse reported only small changes in the pain level (p = .24). Total duration of pain the last 6 months was also significantly improved for the shoulder and forearm in the intervention group, whereas no such changes were observed in the control group. These results clearly indicate the importance of using a computer mouse with a more neutral position of the forearm.
Psychological Mood State, Psychosocial Aspects of Work, and Musculoskeletal Discomfort in Intensive Video Display Terminal (VDT) Work BIBA 95-107
  Frank T. Conway
The relation between psychological mood state, psychosocial aspects of work, and musculoskeletal discomfort was examined using a questionnaire survey of 505 office employees whose jobs required intensive use of video display terminals. Logistic and linear regression analyses demonstrated significant relations between the psychological mood state of stress and musculoskeletal discomfort. Linear regression analysis showed a significant relation between some psychosocial aspects of work and the psychological mood state of stress. The results suggest that an individual's psychological state and characteristics of jobs have important relations to musculoskeletal health. The cross-sectional study design precluded interpretation regarding the temporal nature of these relations.
Effect of Physical Ergonomics on VDT Workers' Health: A Longitudinal Intervention Field Study in a Service Organization BIBA 109-135
  Antoinette Derjani Bayeh; Michael J. Smith
This article examines the effect of physical ergonomic work conditions on occupational health in video display terminal (VDT)-intensive work settings. A longitudinal intervention field study was conducted in a catalog retail service organization in the Midwest to explore the impact of ergonomic interventions. There were 3 levels of ergonomic interventions, each adding incrementally to the previous one. The 1st level was ergonomic training for all VDT users accompanied by workstation ergonomic analysis leading to specific customized adjustments (Group C). The 2nd level added specific workstation accessories supplied by Details, Inc. if the analysis indicated a need for them (Group B). The 3rd level added a Steelcase Criterion(tm) 453 Series chair (Group A). Health data were gathered from 80 volunteer participants by administering a survey before (baseline), 6 months after, and 12 months after interventions were put in place. The findings show that neck, back, and shoulders as well as wrists stand out in terms of self-reported musculoskeletal pain in VDT-intensive work. Reductions in self-reported musculoskeletal discomfort were found for all 3 levels of incremental ergonomic interventions. The number of cases showing improvement in health over time was significant for intervention Groups A and B, but not C.
Extending Effective Target Width in Fitts' Law to a Two-Dimensional Pointing Task BIBA 137-152
  Atsuo Murata
This research was designed to develop the definition of effective target width in a 2-dimensional pointing task. The idea of effective target width in a 1-dimensional pointing task was extended to effective target width in a 2-dimensional pointing task using the 2-dimensional joint probability density function. The validity of this theoretical definition was empirically verified. In the experiment, the moving direction of the mouse was from lower left to upper right. The approach angle was fixed to 45°. The fit of conventional and new models to the experimental data was compared by means of contribution of the regression line that showed the relation between the index of difficulty and the mean pointing time. As a result, we could obtain higher values of contribution for the modeling that introduced effective target width than that for the conventional modeling without it. In conclusion, the proposed 2-dimensional definition of effective target width may be promising for predicting and modeling pointing time in human-computer interactions.
Toward the Task-Complete Development of Activity-Oriented User Interfaces BIBA 153-182
  Chris Stary
Task-complete activity-oriented user interfaces require the processing of knowledge that is based on front-line tasks and user characteristics. This type of knowledge enables the support of end users along the flow of work they are part of. Task completeness requires a development process that allows developers to trace the analysis, design, and implementation for particular user interface solutions, starting out with a transparent model of work in a consistent and understandable way. The Task Analysis/Design/End User Systems (TADEUS) project has led to a development technique and an environment that meets both objectives. The key concepts of TADEUS are (a) the unifying, but semantically rich notation for the representation of the results from task analysis and design; and (b) the executable specification of user interfaces. A workflow-based interpreter implements the latter concept, enabling early feedback on task-based artifacts by end users. This way, the stringent TADEUS methodology together with the tool support lead to a significant increase of quality in use and a reduction of overall development effort to achieve user acceptance through task-complete design and implementation.

IJHCI 1999 Volume 11 Issue 3

Cognitive Walkthroughs: Understanding the Effect of Task-Description Detail on Evaluator Performance BIBA 185-200
  Andrew Sears; David J. Hess
Inspection-based evaluation techniques are popular because they can be fast, require limited formal training, and can find numerous usability problems. Cognitive walkthroughs are one of the most studied techniques, and as a result, the technique has undergone a series of revisions. One such revision, made to speed the evaluation process and reduce the need for formal training in cognitive psychology, incorporated detailed step-by-step task descriptions to guide the evaluation process. This article reports on the first study that investigated the effects of this change when evaluators were learning to apply the technique. The results indicate that providing detailed task descriptions rather than shorter descriptions, as are often used in usability tests, significantly changes the types of problems found. Evaluators given detailed task descriptions found significantly more problems related to the feedback provided by the system but significantly fewer problems related to difficulties locating the necessary controls to complete a task. In addition, evaluators given detailed task descriptions found significantly more low-severity problems. Implications for both researchers and practitioners are discussed.
Facilitate Complex Search Tasks in Hypertext by Externalizing Functional Properties of a Work Domain BIBA 201-229
  Wei Xu; Marvin J. Dainoff; Leonard S. Mark
The premise of this study was that practical problem solving within a complex work domain (ergonomic design and integration of computer workstations) could be enhanced by a hypertext representation of that work domain. Two alternative hypertext representations were developed. The first consisted of an ecological interface design based on the means-end abstraction hierarchy (AH) approach (Vicente & Rasmussen, 1992). In this design, the goal-relevant constraints and functional relations within the domain were explicitly represented on the interface. The second hypertext interface was based on a more traditional classification hierarchy (CH) in which supraordinate categories were broken down into their components (part-whole relation). The relative effectiveness of the 2 approaches was compared using an experimental procedure in which participants solved ergonomic problems of increasing complexity. The results supported the following research hypotheses: (a) When performing a complex or problem-solving task, participants using the AH interface spent less time and experienced less navigation disorientation than those participants using the CH interface; (b) as the task complexity increased, the advantage of the AH interface over the CH interface increased as measured by search time and navigation disorientation; (c) no difference was found between the 2 interfaces for the simple task; and (d) participants using the AH interface also reported experiencing less navigation disorientation than those participants using the CH interface. This article recommends the AH interface as a more effective semantic representation of an interface for a hypertext application with a complex document in support of complex and problem-solving search tasks.
An Investigation of Groupware Support for Collaborative Awareness Through Distortion-Oriented Views BIBA 231-255
  Andy Cockburn; Philip Weir
This article reviews models and theoretical frameworks of collaborative awareness in the use of real-time groupware systems. The review is used to motivate and guide an investigation of distortion-oriented mechanisms for supporting collaborators' fluid and dynamic awareness requirements. We describe our development and evaluation of DOME, a distortion-oriented multiuser editor. Although we designed DOME to provide a realistic and useful platform for the investigation of awareness concepts, our evaluation revealed major flaws in its support for distortion-oriented awareness. We analyze the cause of these errors, some of which were not detected in prior work, and provide precise formulations that will overcome them.

IJHCI 1999 Volume 11 Issue 4

How Experienced Users Avoid Getting Lost in Large Display Networks BIBA 269-299
  Jennifer Watts-Perotti; David D. Woods
This article provides a cognitive analysis of how people navigate in the computer medium. As the complexity of computerized information systems increases, interface designers face the formidable challenge of supporting navigation within these systems to allow users to quickly obtain relevant information. Instead of focusing on the comparison of a small subset of proposed techniques for aiding navigation, this study investigates how people handle navigation within the natural context of a familiar computer environment and reveals cognitive processes that can be better supported to aid navigation. The results of a field study and a field experiment converge to support previous navigation-related theories and contribute to a pattern of navigation behavior that has been noticed in domains like anesthesiology and nuclear power. This article describes the characteristics of the computer medium that influence people's ability to navigate, discusses typical navigation problems that arise in this medium, and describes how designers can aid navigation, based on an analysis of how computer users change their behavior and adapt to computer systems to overcome navigation-related problems.
Templates for Search Queries: A User-Centered Feature for Improving Web Search Tools BIBA 301-315
  Xiaowen Fang; Gavriel Salvendy
A template for search queries was developed based on user-centered design principles and was proposed to assist users in formulating Web search queries. The user-centered design was characterized by predefined search queries organized as a hierarchy. Two experimental search engines and browsers were developed: One was based on currently available search engines and the other was based on the user-centered template design. An experiment was conducted to test the effectiveness of the template design. The dependent variables were (a) the number of relevant Web sites identified during a 1-hr test period, (b) the time to find the first relevant Web site, and (c) satisfaction. The independent variable was type of search engine. The experimental results indicated that the user-centered template design improved users' search performance by 70% and satisfaction of use by 23% as compared to the current search engine.
A Corporate Style Guide That Includes Domain Knowledge BIBA 317-338
  Eva Olsson; Jan Gulliksen
Different professions adopt their own language such that the semantics involve elements very specific to their domain. System developers approaching users in a new domain often experience initial difficulties when trying to understand these semantics and associated work practices. Although most software developers also lack knowledge of human-computer interaction (HCI), means of transferring domain and HCI knowledge to developers in a convenient form are needed. A domain-specific style guide could be a worthy framework for the development of a high-level structure of interface elements and guidelines, including domain knowledge. Such a style guide is suggested as a practical form for packaging domain and HCI knowledge to aid developers. Anticipated benefits are enhanced application quality, usability, efficiency, and acceptance as the communication among software developers and intended users improves. The speed of application development could also increase. This article summarizes a project in which a medical style guide was developed and describes in more detail the work procedure utilized in the development of a corporate style guide for the tax-handling domain. Finally, suggestions on style guide development conditions are presented based on experiences from the establishment of the style guide in an organization.
Identification of an Acceptable Mixture of Key and Speech Inputs in Bimodal Interfaces BIBA 339-348
  Atsuo Murata
This study was designed to determine the acceptable mixture level of key and speech inputs in a bimodal interface in which users were permitted to use both key and speech input systems. The mixture level was a controlled experimental variable. Five mixture levels were used: 0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100%. The experimental task was to edit a document. The 0% mixture level meant that the participant performed an editing task using only the keyboard. At the 100% mixture level, the participant performed an editing task using only speech input. After each experimental condition had been tested, the participants' mental workload was also measured using the National Aeronautics and Space Administration-Task Load Index. The results suggest that the mixture level between 25% and 50% was acceptable in view of both the completion time and workload.
Decision Support for Indexing and Retrieval of Information in Hypertext Systems BIBA 349-371
  Wenli Zhu; Mark R. Lehto
This study introduces and evaluates the performance of two statistical models intended to support the automatic creation of a subject-based index containing links to hypertext documents. The fuzzy Bayes model makes strong dependence assumptions, and only considers the strongest evidence presented by single words occurring in a document, whereas the classic Bayes model makes strong independence assumptions and attempts to aggregate all the evidence. The links or index terms suggested by both indexing models overlapped greatly with those assigned by a human indexer. However, the probabilities calculated using the classic Bayes model were unstable because of data sparseness and severe violations of the independence assumptions. Subsequent analysis therefore focused on the fuzzy Bayes model. The latter analysis revealed that human experts rated index terms suggested by the model significantly higher than randomly selected index terms. When the index terms assigned by the fuzzy Bayes model were implemented as links in a hypertext system, users' performance on information retrieval tasks was similar to that using links assigned by the human indexer. These results demonstrated that the fuzzy Bayes model is a particularly promising method that can accurately duplicate the links suggested by a human indexer, requires little computation, and offers the potential advantage of flexibly modifying links in a way that reflects the relative costs of false alarms and misses.