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Help Feature Interactions in Digital Libraries: Influence of learning styles

Chunsheng Huang and Iris Xie

ASIST 2011 Annual Meeting
New Orleans, LA, October 9-12, 2011


Little is known about how learning styles may have an impact on users' help-seeking behaviors. In this paper, we report the results of a study investigating the effects of learning styles on help feature interactions in the digital library environment. The Felder-Silverman Index of Learning Styles was employed to measure users' four different style dimensions: Active/Reflective, Sensory/Intuitive, Visual/ Verbal, and Sequential/Global. Multiple data collection methods, including questionnaires, think-aloud protocols, transaction logs, and interviews, were employed to collect data from 27 participants. Findings of this study demonstrate that learning styles influence the way that participants interact with help features of digital libraries. The results suggest that the designs of IR systems, including digital libraries, need to support different learning styles by offering different types of help features, different formats of help, and different organization and presentation of help content.

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