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Toward a Better Understanding of Help Seeking Behavior: An Evaluation of help mechanisms in Two IR systems

Hong (Iris) Xie, Colleen Cool

ASIS&T Annual Meeting - 2006 (ASIS&T 2006)
Austin, Texas, November 3-9, 2006


Help seeking can be viewed as a multi-dimensional information behavior which often overlaps with both information seeking and searching. After searching in two IR systems, fifty participants completed a self-administered questionnaire which consists of their ways of leaning how to use the help mechanisms, difficulties associated with this learning process, their general evaluation of the help mechanisms, with specification of features that they liked and disliked, specific aspects of the help mechanism that assisted participants in the search process, and their evaluation of the interaction between the searcher and the help mechanisms. The results show that that people prefer specific help, visual help and help with demo instead of general help, text help and help with description. The theoretical and practical implications of this study are further discussed.

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