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Davida Charney


Publications by Davida Charney (bibliography)

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Charney, Davida (1994): "Communication at a Distance: The Influence of Print on Sociocultural Organization and Change,. In International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 40 (6) pp. 1067-1068.

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Charney, Davida (1987): Comprehending Non-Linear Text: The Role of Discourse Cues and Reading Strategies. In: Weiss, Stephen and Schwartz, Mayer (eds.) Proceedings of ACM Hypertext 87 Conference November 13-15, 1987, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. pp. 109-120.

By studying the structure of written discourse and the processes by which readers acquire information from texts, we have learned a great deal about how to design texts that facilitate learning. However, recent advances in computer technology have enabled the development of new forms of text that violate standard assumptions of what texts are like. These new forms may pose serious problems for learning because they lack discourse features that readers rely on for assimilating new information. In particular, readers traditionally rely on the writer to determine the sequence of topics and to employ conventional cues that signal relationships among topics, such as relative importance or chronology. However, on-line hypertext systems present texts non-linearly, requiring readers to decide what information to read and in what order. This paper assesses the potential impact of non-linear texts on theories of discourse and on current cognitive theories of text processing. It also describes research in progress on readers' sequencing strategies in hypertext. Research on the effect of hypertext on reading will have important practical implications for designing hypertext systems that satisfy readers' needs.

© All rights reserved Charney and/or ACM Press

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Charney, Davida and Reder, Lynne M. (1986): Designing Interactive Tutorials for Computer Users. In Human-Computer Interaction, 2 (4) pp. 297-317.

The aim of this article is to find the optimal combination of written instruction and on-line practice for learning a new computer application. Subjects in the experiment learned commands for an electronic spreadsheet by reading brief user-manual descriptions and working training problems on-line. The form of the training problems was varied in a within-subjects design to control how much independent problem solving subjects engaged in while learning any given command. There were three forms of practice: (a) pure guided practice, in which subjects were told exactly what keystrokes to type to solve the problems; (b) pure problem-solving practice, in which subjects solved problems without guidance; and (c) mixed practice, in which the first problem for a command was presented in guided practice form and two others in problem-solving form. The spacing of the training problems was also manipulated; the problems pertaining to a given command were either massed (i.e., presented consecutively) or distributed (i.e., separated by other instructional material). After a 2-day delay, subjects solved new problems on the computer without referring to the instructional materials. The results indicate that problem solving was a more difficult form of training than guided practice, but it produced the best performance at test. Distributing the spacing of training problems during training also improved performance at test. The results have clear pragmatic implications for the design of interactive tutorial manuals as well as implications for cognitive models of skill acquisition.

© All rights reserved Charney and and/or Taylor and Francis

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