Under the perspective that science communication will increasingly be done through the Internet, it is important to understand how users read and understand information in this medium. This study focuses the Web and it examines the effects of presenting a document set (a popular science magazine report) in two different formats: print and hypertext. An experimental protocol was used to assess readers' performance in terms of comprehension of the material, perception of cognitive load, satisfaction and attention to the documents. Hypertext reading lead to poorer comprehension of complementary documents and higher perceived effort to read materials such as tables and graphics. On the other hand, satisfaction with the materials was generally high among all users, indicating that there is no prior rejection of the technology. The present data offer support for theories of disorientation and cognitive load in learning from hypermedia. We suggest that efficient hypertext! s may be built, but in order to do so, authors will have to improve text legibility in the electronic medium.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Reading and understanding a science report through paper and hypertext

Mônica Macedo-Rouet   Methodist University of São Paulo

Jean- François Rouet   CNRS and University of Poitiers

Pierre Fayard   University of Poitiers

Isaac Epstein   Methodist University of São Paulo

Under the perspective that science communication will increasingly be done through the Internet, it is important to understand how users read and understand information in this medium. This study focuses the Web and it examines the effects of presenting a document set (a popular science magazine report) in two different formats: print and hypertext. An experimental protocol was used to assess readers' performance in terms of comprehension of the material, perception of cognitive load, satisfaction and attention to the documents. Hypertext reading lead to poorer comprehension of complementary documents and higher perceived effort to read materials such as tables and graphics. On the other hand, satisfaction with the materials was generally high among all users, indicating that there is no prior rejection of the technology. The present data offer support for theories of disorientation and cognitive load in learning from hypermedia. We suggest that efficient hypertext! s may be built, but in order to do so, authors will have to improve text legibility in the electronic medium.

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