Individual differences in hypertext browsing strategies
The purpose of this study was to investigate differences in web browsing strategies between older and younger participants and also between individuals displaying verbaliser and imager cognitive styles. Typically, verbalisers process information in word form, whereas imagers process information in terms of images. Ten minutes each were allowed to 58 participants to read information in either a hierarchical or relational hypertext with the expectation of answering questions on this information. Browsing strategies were assessed firstly by using three indices of browsing patterns (number of pages visited, proportion of pages visited and pages revisited) and secondly by analysing assessments of browsing strategies given by independent judges. Differences were found between imagers and verbalisers for the indices of browsing patterns, with verbalisers visiting more pages in the hierarchical architecture and imagers visiting more pages in the relational architecture. Similarly, differences were noted between younger and older participants, with the younger groups visiting more pages in the hierarchical condition and the older groups visiting more pages in the relational condition. No differences were observed for the judge's ratings of browsing strategy. The findings have possible implications for the design of web-based instructional systems.