ERIC Number: ED225100
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Apr
Reference Count: 0
A Framework for Research on the Comprehension of Procedural Texts and Pictures.
McConkie, George W.
To gain a greater understanding about how people comprehend a set of directions, a macro-level research approach is needed. Researchers must first decide on the domain of activity that is to be investigated. In our society instructions are used for building things from parts, disassembling things, determining the functional characteristics of things, operating something, or carrying out some action. Researchers should first think of the carrying out of the task as a problem faced by the subject, and then think of the act of carrying it out as proceeding through a problem space. The structures of the problem space for different tasks are probably not only very different, but different in specifiable ways. Thus, a taxonomy of tasks could probably be developed based on the characteristics of the problem space of their solution. Instructions are ways of providing information that can place additional constraints on the decisions being made in carrying out the tasks. Researchers should attempt to characterize what sorts of instructions place what sorts of constraints on particular categories of subjects, and then try to understand why this is so. This requires three tasks: developing a means of characterizing decision points, identifying the types of information necessary to constrain choices at these points, and providing knowledge on the most effective means of communicating these types of information. Finally, the researchers should examine the characteristics of the instructions that influence the likelihood that the information provided will actually be used. Such information can help to build a knowledge base for those who have responsibility for developing instructions. (HOD)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Following Directions; Instructions
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Reading Association (27th, Chicago, IL, April 26-30, 1982).