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Strategies for time allocation across multiple on-line texts

Wilkinson, Susan Claire 2007. Strategies for time allocation across multiple on-line texts. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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With growing information sources on-line, the issue is no longer the availability of information, but how people manage the task of allocating their time effectively to the best information sources for their needs. This thesis investigates the strategies people use to allocate time across multiple written texts when under time pressure. Experiment 1 examined the effect that study time and number of resources had on the time allocation behaviour of participants presented with the task of learning for an unseen test. The browsing behaviour was recorded and indicated that people were using the satisficing strategy (where judgement and learning are integrated, as opposed to a sampling strategy, where judgement and learning are separated). Experiments 2 and 3 investigated how adaptive participants were at allocating their time to appropriate information sources by asking them to learn for a specific test and providing them with four texts which varied in relevance to the test questions. Data showed that participants used the satisficing strategy to allocate more time to relevant texts. Assuming that people therefore use the satisficing style of browsing behaviour when allocating time across texts under these conditions, Experiments 4 and 5 used eye-tracking methods to determine how the satisficing strategy is played out, and what level of text is generally used to make judgement decisions (i.e., how do people integrate judgement and learning and when do they make their judgement decisions). The data suggested that readers were using small units of text (e.g., paragraphs, or quarter sections of a page) to make their judgements, and that each time they rejected a unit of text, they would jump to the next unit. The skimming nature of their behaviour led to the development from the simple satisficing model to the satisficing then skimming model. The data regarding time spent on sections of pages also necessitated the development of the model into one which involved two rather than one level of text unit. Experiment 6 investigated whether this satisficing strategy was restricted to the experimental conditions used in Experiments 1 to 5, or because it is a widely used strategy. Participants were either aware (informed condition) or unaware (un-informed condition) of the different qualities of the available texts. Those who were aware sampled more, but half still satisficed, thus suggesting that satisficing was not simply a product of the experimental conditions used in previous experiments. This thesis adds to research in the area of time allocation, and proposes that people use a strategy based on satisficing in order to adaptively allocate their time across information sources. This conclusion has implications for the design of on-line texts, as knowing how people allocate time across a text can inform about how a text can be designed in order to support this kind of time allocation strategy.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
ISBN: 9781303181825
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 12 Feb 2016 23:14

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