Use of metacognitive strategies during software navigation

Date of Completion

January 1998


Psychology, Cognitive|Education, Technology of|Information Science




The purpose of this study was to determine what, if any, metacognitive processes are employed by software users as they navigate through an information space. This study followed a single-subject design, however, in order to improve external validity, the experiment was replicated using multiple (N = 6) male participants in their late-20s to late-40s. Three of the six participants were classified as having system-specific knowledge and already possessed detailed mental models of the database architecture and interface of the specific software that were used for the intervention. The other three participants did not have system-specific knowledge, having no prior experience in using this point-of-information system.^ Each participant performed 20 trials in order to ensure a stable data set. Each trial successively increased in the level of complexity and difficulty. A log file recorded the sequence of frames that were accessed during each trial, and the amount of time each frame was displayed. A camcorder recorded the computer monitor and participant performing each trial, then also recorded the post-trial debriefing interview.^ Three independent observers, who were familiar with metacognitive literature and demonstrated a high inter-rater reliability (above 0.80), reviewed the videotapes of the debriefing conducted by the experimenter occurring after each trial. They recorded the number of observable behaviors on an instrument (based on Cates, 1992) which inferred the presence of metacognitive activities.^ A General Linear Model was used to perform a Mixed Model ANOVA with 2 (Group) x 20 (Trial), where Group is a between-subject factor and Trial is a within-subject factor. The results indicate that there exists significant differences between the two groups; those having system-specific knowledge versus those without it. However, there also existed significant differences between all the participants, across all trials.^ Given the complexity of this topic and the dearth of research in this area, this study offers an important contribution in building upon the minimal body of knowledge in linking metacognition to human-computer interface design with respect to navigating across a sequence of frames. ^