CCE Theses and Dissertations

Guidelines for Incorporating Complex Schematics Into Computer-Assisted Instruction

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Science


Center for Computer and Information Sciences


George Fornshell

Committee Member

Barry Centini

Committee Member

John Kingsbury


The incorporation of schematics into computer-assisted instruction (CAI) is affected by the physical limitations of computer systems and the user's ability to discern and interpret on-line data. For example, the refresh rate of the computer screen can produce visual fatigue, and various display techniques and the inconsistent use of color can negatively impact the performance of some visual tasks. This notwithstanding, military and commercial training applications continue to use all levels of computer systems for CAI.

Definitive guidelines for incorporating schematics into CAI could not be identified. To develop such guidelines, this study used a Delphi approach to achieve a computed consensus among experts. To provide the Delphi participants with background data on techniques currently being used, a status study using a mailed questionnaire was conducted. A random sampling (n=133) of organizations purported to engage in instructional development were surveyed to determine:

  1. Display techniques being used to incorporate complex schematics into CAI.
  2. Background data on the CAI programs incorporating schematics (e.g., audience, instructional purpose of the schematic).
  3. The effectiveness with which the schematics are fulfilling their primary instructional purpose.
  4. The student's ability to discern and interpret the schematic.

A low response rate to the instructional developer's questionnaire was achieved (n=32). Of the returned questionnaires, five respondents indicated that they had developed training programs which incorporated schematics.

Five affirmative responses was insufficient for drawing statistically-significant conclusions. However, the instructional developer's questionnaire did fulfill its purpose of gathering background data for the Delphi participants. The data from the instructional developer's questionnaire was summarized to show the distribution of the survey population and the number of respondents who had developed courseware incorporating schematics, the use of schematics within the courseware, and the type of hardware.

Using a Likert-type or Summated Rating Scale, the respondents rated the perceived importance of eight specific techniques for incorporating schematics into instruction and the mean of their responses was calculated. This data was provided to the Delphi participants, six experts participated in the Delphi. The Delphi consisted of three rounds of identical questionnaires. For the second round, the questionnaire showed both the modal response and the participant's own response to the round 1 questionnaire. If the Delphi participant's response differed from the modal response, the participant was asked to state his/her reason for disagreeing with the consensus.

Participants were informed that if they indicated "no reason", it would be assumed that they had revised their opinion, and now agreed with the consensus opinion. The third, and final, questionnaire indicated each participant's own response to the items in the second questionnaire, the modal responses, and a summary of the reasons given by the participants to support responses differing from the mode. Each participant was asked to answer the questionnaire once more, taking into consideration any diverging opinions by the other participants. The mode for the final questionnaire represents the computed consensus of the group. The computed consensus was used to create a set of guidelines for incorporating schematics into CAI. These guidelines are intended for anyone who is responsible for media selection or f or designing CAI that requires schematics to support the training objectives.

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