Procedural and Declarative Information in Software Manuals

Procedural and Declarative Information in Software Manuals

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People who use software manuals want to get something done. Procedural information directly supports this goal, but the use of declarative information in manuals has often been under discussion. Current research gives rise to the expectation that manual users tend to skip declarative information most of the time. Also, no effects of declarative information in software manuals have yet been found.In this study, information use and information effects in software manuals are investigated in three experiments, thereby taking different user types, different task types and different information arrangements into account. A new technique was applied: theclickaread method. This technique enables the software user to use the manual and carry out software tasks at the same time while information selection and times are recorded automatically in logfiles.For the first time, quantitative data are presented about the amounts of procedural and declarative information that were selected and the times that were spent using these information types. Although procedural information is selected more often and used longer, declarative information appears to be a substantial part of the information selection. Moreover, the results show that using declarative information positively affects performance on future tasks, performance on reasoning tasks and factual knowledge.The experimental manuals were first printed on paper. The prints were scanned as black and white photos in a compressed format. In the scanning process, a high resolution and good contrast and brightness senings were chosen. This was anbsp;...

Title:Procedural and Declarative Information in Software Manuals
Author:Nicole Ummelen
Publisher:Rodopi - 1997-01-01


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