The effects of spatial layout on relationships between performance, path patterns and mental representation in a hypermedia information search task

Patricia M Boechler (14‐30B University Extension Centre, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2T4, Canada)
Michael R W Dawson (2Biological Computation Project, Department of Psychology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2P9, Canada)

Interactive Technology and Smart Education

ISSN: 1741-5659

Publication date: 28 February 2005

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to build on previous research in hypermedia by including an investigation of the relationships between navigation tools, path patterns and mental representations with traditional measures of navigation outcomes. We examined the effects of four different spatial layouts on three facets of hypermedia use, performance, path patterns and mental representation, during an information search task. Typically, such measures are evaluated independently. We have sought to reveal what types of information in a navigation tool might mediate links between these three aspects of hypermedia use. The performance measures indicated that providing certain types of spatial information does not enhance speed, accuracy or economy but does enhance recall of page titles. Reference is then made to an earlier analysis on the dataset of path patterns using Multidimensional Scaling (MDS) which indicated that users’ paths reflected the most prominent type of information provided in the navigation tool. The MDS configurations were then compared to the results of a distance‐like ratings task using correlation and regression methods. Only users given explicit spatial cues in the navigation tool exhibited ratings that reflected the paths they had actually taken. Although spatial information may not impact surface performance measures such as speed and economy, spatial information does play a role in influencing where users go and the development of their mental representations of the material in a hyper document.

Keywords

Citation

Boechler, P. and Dawson, M. (2005), "The effects of spatial layout on relationships between performance, path patterns and mental representation in a hypermedia information search task", Interactive Technology and Smart Education, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 31-46. https://doi.org/10.1108/17415650580000031

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Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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