The thesis investigates the elaboration of text to improve the acquisition of
computing skill by casual users. Manuals are currently the main method
by which these users are helped to acquire such skills. However, since
there is no control over the way that the manual will be made use of, and no
control over the sequencing of task learning, manuals are rarely entirely
satisfactory in supporting learning processes. The issue investigated in the
present thesis is whether manuals can be modified by the elaboration of text
in order to support learning. The thesis also investigates skill
measurement techniques, methods of specifying training devices and the
applicability of controlled laboratory experiments to this applied setting.
A comparison of computing skill measurement techniques showed that the
most valid and practical method consisted of short tasks to be carried out
using the computing system. These tasks were used as the basis for the
study of the effectiveness of manuals.
Examination of the pertinent literature in the light of the problems of
producing texts for casual users and a model of skill acquisition based on
hierarchical task analysis produced several theoretical devices for
improving manuals. A formal method of applying the devices to a standard
text enabled the controlled examination of the theories…
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.