Readability applications are the software products designed to make online text more readable. Using information foraging theory as a framework, the purpose of this paper is to study the extent, if at all, using a readability application improves skimming comprehension in a low-clutter online environment. It also seeks to identify the perceived benefits or effects of using a readability application for skimming comprehension.
Ten participants skimmed two articles each, one in a low-clutter online document presentation environment, the other using an online readability application, as a timed, information foraging exercise. After reading each article, respondents answered true/false comprehension questions and follow up questions.
There was little difference in the comprehension of respondents after skimming in the two online documentation presentation environments. The readability environment was the preferred environment.
This study suggests that since participants claimed to prefer the text presentation of the readability application interface, interface designers may wish to create library interfaces for information seeking that follow the readability application format. Because some of the participants found themselves reading rather than skimming when using the readability application, readability for tasks other than skimming may be enhanced.
This is a practical study investigating an existing online readability application and its effects on an existing online reading environment as they pertain to information seeking behavior in general and to information foraging in particular.
Thanks to John Lowrance for his editorial aid.
Lowrance, N. and Lea Moulaison, H. (2014), "Skimming comprehension in two online document presentation environments", Library Hi Tech, Vol. 32 No. 3, pp. 382-396. https://doi.org/10.1108/LHT-01-2014-0011Download as .RIS
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