Comprehension And Workload Differences For Vdt And Paper-Based Reading


HCI performance issues; NASA-TLX; Reading comprehension; Video display terminal (VDT); Working memory load; Workload


Computer monitors, or video display terminals (VDTs) are starting to be utilized for a wider variety of tasks including reading information. Two experiments were carried out to determine if reading information from a VDT resulted in poorer performance. The performance categories tested were reading times, comprehension of the information, and mental workload (as measured by the NASA-TLX). The first experiment found that those who read from a VDT took significantly longer than those reading from paper. To determine if this difference was due to an increased use of the resources available in working memory, a second experiment was conducted. Half of the participants in the second experiment were instructed to retain a list of letters in working memory while reading from either paper or a VDT. Those reading a paper copy of the material took longer to finish than those reading from a VDT. In contrast, a trend in the data indicated comprehension scores were lower for those reading from a VDT. Therefore the best medium for conveying information might depend on which aspect of performance is most important and on how the information is displayed in the two cases. Additional implications, applications, and future research directions also are discussed. Relevance to industry: It is important to consider the nature of the information before determining the medium used since not only the formatting, but also the medium can impact user performance. This should be considered when determining how to display different types of information (e.g. illustrations, text, or both) considering VDT works reasonably well when the information is broken down into smaller segments to reduce workload. Further, this study indicates that the way in which information is displayed on a VDT can change the time it will take someone to read that information. Therefore, the task being conducted by the user needs to be taken into account before determining to how to use a computer for the display of information. Regardless, of these areas need to be explored further to determine what is causing performance difference so that the work place can be designed to maximize the benefits of the technology of the future. © 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

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International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics





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Personal Identifier


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0034765342 (Scopus)

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