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Cognitive analysis of web site navigation


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cognitive science, web navigation, design, technology, researc

Published in: Education, Technology
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Cognitive analysis of web site navigation

  1. 1. Cognitive Analysis of Web Site Navigation<br />Aimee Maree Forsstrom BAppComp<br />Post Graduate Research Student <br />Southern Cross University <br />School of Information Technology<br />Research performed under the supervision of Dr Graham Cooper<br />
  2. 2. Human Cognitive Architecture <br />Image from<br />
  3. 3. Plus or Minus Two the Magical Number Seven<br />The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information * <br />Short-term memory is restricted to just a few bits of information, this famous paper by George A Miller showed among other things how chunking could be employed to increase the restricted capacity of short-term memory. <br />*originally published in The Psychological Review, 1956, vol. 63, pp. 81-97<br />
  4. 4. Cognitive Load Theory<br />Cognitive load refers to the total amount of mental activity imposed on working memory at an instance in time.<br />This theory suggests that learning happens best under conditions that are aligned with human cognitive architecture. <br />Sweller, J., Instructional Design in Technical Areas, (Camberwell, Victoria, Australia: Australian Council for Educational Research (1999).<br />
  5. 5. The Three Main Types of Cognitive Load<br />Intrinsic cognitive load; Cannot be changed, this is due to the inherent difficulty associated with the information presented. <br />Extraneous cognitive load; Unnecessary cognitive load generated by the manner in which information is presented to learners and is under the control of designers (Cooper 1998). <br />Germane cognitive load; devoted to the processing, construction and automation of schemata (long term memory)” (Sweller 1999). <br />
  6. 6. With Cognitive Load Theory we can Reduce the Required Mental Effort<br />When intrinsic cognitive load is low (simple content) sufficient mental resources remain<br />If the intrinsic cognitive load is high and the extraneous cognitive load is high total cognitive load will exceed.<br />Modifying instructional materials to engineer a lower level of extraneous cognitive load will facilitate learning.<br />
  7. 7. Cognitive load theory focuses on the role of working memory in the learning process<br />Working memory is extremely limited.<br />Long term memory is essentially unlimited.<br />The process of learning requires working memory to be actively engaged in the comprehension of instructional material to encode into long term memory.<br />If the resources of working memory are exceeded then learning will be ineffective.<br />
  8. 8. Why Web Site Navigation and CLT?<br />As we navigate and learn our way through a web site we are interacting with and processing information<br />With the uptake of the web and the use of the web for business applications Navigation becomes more important to our efficient use of the web<br />
  9. 9. Main way we access information – the internet<br />Web Site Navigation is Instructional Design <br />Navigation is the instruction we use to locate and move our way through a web site<br />
  10. 10. Not just static but interactive <br />The web has become Interactive <br />No longer do we just surf/browse for information<br />But we interact with it and perform tasks<br />
  11. 11. Task Driven Navigation <br />With the rise of content management systems most websites these days are maintained by task driven interaction<br />Websites such as Twitter, facebook, bebo, linkedin, myspace are task driven not browse and search<br />We visit these websites to perform tasks and interact with the information<br />All this interacting changes the way we navigate around the web<br />
  12. 12. All this information can overload our Memory<br />* Image from<br />
  13. 13. Can we analyse if people have interpreted information on a web site?<br />Yes, this is where Cognitive Load Theory and Cognitive Analysis comes into play...<br />We don't just test if people enjoy and can use the website but we access how much information they have been able to process whilst interacting with it.<br />
  14. 14. How do we prove instructional design is better<br />We run Controlled Experiment/s <br />We take two groups of people<br />One with the normal instruction (Control Group)<br />One with the changed instruction (Experiment Group)<br />We then look at the test results to see if there is any statistical difference between the groups<br />If there is a statistical difference then the instructional change has benefited the interpretation of that information<br />
  15. 15. Example of Cognitive Load Web Based Experiment <br />Game was designed to mimic task driven navigation<br />Two groups where used with different navigation types<br />Navigation design change looked into was CSS position:fixed (use of static menus)<br />
  16. 16. Experiment Design<br />Participants where taken through a navigation game (Random Facts Game)<br />Asked to complete a mental effort survey<br />Asked to complete a “Fill in the Facts” questionnaire from the random facts learnt in the game<br />Ask to perform a rebuild of the navigation menu (to show uptake of schema) <br />Asked to complete a usability survey and provide quantitative feedback<br />
  17. 17. Preliminary Results from Experiment<br />The experiment group was more efficient in time for navigation steps, statistical significance found.<br />From the “Fill in the Facts” questionnaire we can see a statistical difference in the overall scores out of 17 questions, the experiment group scored higher in 14 and in all the harder questions. <br />From the Navigation Schema rebuild we can see a statistical difference in overall schema rebuild <br />In qualitative analysis 47% of the control group complained about the navigation whilst only 17% complained in the experiment group<br />
  18. 18. What does it help us Understand<br />From this research we can see a trend that if we change the web site navigation to adhere to cognitive load then people are able to take in the information more<br />We can form a conclusion that the group with better navigation had a lower incidence of cognitive over load and hence were able to interpret the information and also interact with more elements of the information<br />Some statistical differences found and trends present which present the need for further research into this effect<br />
  19. 19. Why is Cognitive Analysis Needed<br />Task Driven Navigation not just seek and find<br />Web as become a hub of activity where we work not just play<br />More business is being done online, more people are forced to interact with websites for there work<br />Stop the guess work, are people taking in and interacting with the information on our web sites<br />Examples of sites that could use Cognitive Analysis<br />Government portal sites where access to worthwhile information is why people visit them<br />Content Management Systems (example Drupal Admin Menu) <br />Task driven and business based web applications <br />
  20. 20. Now that we have passed the “Wow” factor of the web, it is the time for us as web engineers to ensure that the user experience is paramount. No longer can we just design web sites for us or for the business but we need to consider how people are interacting with and interpreting our information.Aimee Maree Forsstrom 2009<br />