Trudel, C-I. and Payne, S.J. (1996) Self-monitoring during exploration of an interactive device. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, Vol. 45, No. 6, pp. 723-747.

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DOI= 10.1006/ijhc.1996.0076

Trudel and Payne are interested in how people learn to use interactive devices and how this learning can be supported. Their studies relate to usability testing as they made experiments where “subject explored an unfamiliar interactive device without the benefit of assistance or instruction” as in usability test. They did not use concurrent thinking aloud, but asked the subjects to explain their doings or intentions with short intervals, as the comparison group worked silently without interruptions. In one experiment, they used different prompts for these explanations having some or no relevance to the tasks. In one experiment, they also tested, whether an external prompt was needed or if the subjects could independently interrupt their work to review their process.

The results showed that
– the subjects who were interrupted to verbalize what they had learned during past 2 minutes made significantly less errors than the group who were not interrupted
– also the subjects who were interrupted to verbalize their intentions performed significantly better than those without interruptions
– when compared, those reviewing their learning made significantly less errors than those stating their intentions, describing the current screen (DS) or answering unrelated questions (UQ). Still, the ones stating their intentions made significantly less errors than DS or UQ groups. Thereby, the content affects performance instead of mere verbalization and having breaks.
– if the subjects were asked to stop working whenever they felt that they had learned something and to state that aloud, they also made significantly fewer errors than the comparison group.

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