Conceptual instructions derived from an analysis of device models

Payne, Stephen J., Howes, Andrew and Hill, Elaine Alais susannna orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-4984-9446 (1992) Conceptual instructions derived from an analysis of device models. International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 4 (1). pp. 35-57. ISSN 1044-7318

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This article advances a heuristic for conceptual instruction, based on the yoked‐state space (YSS) hypothesis about the contents of users’ device models (Payne, 1987a; Payne, Squibb, & Howes, 1990). The YSS hypothesis suggests that users of a system need to understand the system's representation of the task domain. Accordingly, conceptual instructions should express the mapping from device objects onto goal‐space objects, especially those aspects that are not visible at the user interface. Such instructions are developed for a menu‐driven computer system based on the RATES system for performing remote diagnosis of telephone lines. A simple comparative experiment shows that novices who receive these instructions learn to use RATES more quickly than novices who receive only background instruction and a brief procedural manual. These results increase empirical support for the YSS hypothesis, and, at the same time, suggest a heuristic for the design of conceptual instructions.

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