CEC Theses and Dissertations

Title

A Usability Study of Updated Simulation Software

Date of Award

1993

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Computer Education

Department

Center for Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

John Kingsburry

Committee Member

Thomas W. MacFarland

Committee Member

Laurie Dringus

Committee Member

Edward Lieblein

Abstract

The literature indicates that usability studies, commonly used in industry, are rarely conducted with educational software and children. The problem addressed in this study examined the issue of educational software usability studies with children. The researcher conducted an experimental, randomized control-group posttest study investigating the redesign of the human-computer interface of educational simulation software.

The study employed a testing instrument designed by the researcher. The validation of the instrument is contained within this study. Along with the test instrument embedded counters were used to collect data for this study. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and ANOVA.

Results showed that software rewritten with a redesigned human-computer interface was easier for students to use. This was an expected outcome. An item analysis of the test instrument was used to attempt to explain why the new interface was easier for the students.

The human-computer interface was rewritten using human factors guidelines. Results were that menus may be a better interface than sentence direction, if the task is not too difficult. When the difficulty increased, the data yielded evidence that menus may not be any more effective than sentence directions.

The use of inverse video for giving directions was also examined. The results showed a definite increase in effectiveness when inverse video directions were changed to a menu format. A focus of this study was to determine if usability studies should be conducted on childhood populations. It is the researcher's belief that this is essential for major improvements in educational software.

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