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Effects of Pictures, Age, and Experience on Learning to Use a Computer Program

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This study examines the effects of pictures of screen captures and input devices on documentation for older novices. There was no main effect of pictures, but there were statistically significant interactions between the type of picture and the factors of age and computer experience. As predicted, the most optimized designs—the ones presenting screen captures—moderated the negative effects of age. We argue that screen captures help reduce two problems in the cognitive area that are especially troublesome for older users, namely memory load and visual scanning. The screen captures also were helpful for the more experienced novices who remained ahead of the less experienced novices. The paper concludes with a discussion of the need to consider cognitive and physical factors to optimize designs for older novices.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2002

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  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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