A Study of User Model Based Link Annotation in Educational Hypermedia
Peter Brusilovsky (Human-Computer Interaction Institute,Carnegie Mellon University, USA)
John Eklund (Learning Systems Research and Development Group, Faculty of Education, The University of Technology, Australia)
Abstract: Adaptive link annotation is a new direction within the field of user-model based interfaces. It is a specific technique in Adaptive Navigation Support (ANS) whose aim is to help users find an appropriate path in a learning and information space by adapting link presentation to the goals, knowledge, and other characteristics of an individual user. More specifically, ANS has been implemented on the WWWin the InterBook system as link annotation indicating several states such as visited, ready to be learned, or not ready to be learned. These states represent an expert's suggested path for an individual user through a learning space according to both a history-based (tracking where the user has been), and a pre-requisite based (indexing of content as a set of domain model concepts) annotation. This particular process has been more fully described elsewhere [Brusilovsky, Eklund & Schwarz 1998].
This paper details results from an investigation to determine the effectiveness of user-model based link annotation, in a real-world teaching and learning context, on learning outcomes for a group of twenty-five second year education students in their study of databases and spreadsheets. Using sections of a textbook on ClarisWorks databases and spreadsheets, which had been authored into the InterBook program, students received sections of the text both with and without the adaptive link annotation. Through the use of audit trails, questionnaires and test results, we show that while this particular form of ANS implemented in InterBook initially had a negative effect on learning of the group, it appears to have been beneficial to the learning of those particular students who tended to accept the navigation advice, particularly initially when they were unfamiliar with a complex interface. We also show that ANS provided learners with the confidence to adopt less sequential paths through the learning space. Considering ANS tools comprised a minimal part of the interface in the experiment, we show that they functioned reliably well. Discussion and suggestions for further research are provided.
Keywords: AdaptiveHypermedia, Evaluation, Hypertext, Navigation, Navigation support, User Model, WWW