HCIL-84-01

Memory for menus: effects of study mode
Norman, K., Schwartz, J., Shneiderman, B.
May 1984
(revised 1987, see 87-14 Memory for hierarchical menus: effects of study mode).
HCIL-84-01, CS-TR-1412, CAR-TR-69
Menu selection systems require a certain amount of training in order for users to remember how to access target functions. In this experiment users studied four different types of documentation before searching for target words in a content-free menu containing no meaningful relationships among terms. Documentation was presented to subjects in one of four modes of study. In the Command Mode subjects studied sequences of choices to arrive at a desired target. In the Menu Frame Mode subjects studied individual frames in the menu system. In the Global Tree Mode subjects studied a diagram of the menu tree. Finally, in the Trial and Error Mode subjects studied the menu system by actually selecting alternatives. Although the Global Tree and Command Sequence Groups found the most target words during the test phase, the four groups did not differ significantly. On the other hand, differences in the ability to recall menu terms were significant with the command Sequence and Menu Frame Groups recalling the most terms. Furthermore, results indicated that the type of training fundamentally affected the type of information used in order to find targets. Subjects in the Command Sequence and Menu Frame Groups tended to rely on recall of menu terms. Furthermore, all groups relied heavily on memory of the menu tree except for the Command Squence Group. Results of this study are related to practical considerations for the design of menu selection systems.
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