ERIC Number: ED213028
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1981-Sep
Reference Count: N/A
Strategies for Understanding Forms and Other Public Documents. Document Design Project, Technical Report No. 13.
Holland, V. Melissa; Redish, Janice C.
Viewed as discourse, official forms exhibit identifiable text characteristics and elicit strategies for comprehension that take into account these characteristics, as well as context and the user's prior knowledge about the world. However, forms also have unique characteristics that require processes and strategies which differ in systematic ways from those needed for conventional texts. Protocol analysis has revealed that expert form users operate on several levels as they try to understand and complete a form. The lowest level is represented by decoding statements, indicating that the user was devoting attention to the lexical and syntactic aspects of directions in order to figure out word meanings and to clarify sentences. The second level, form-using strategies, represents text-level processes for understanding in which the user goes beyond words and sentences in attempting to relate items across the form or to draw on personal knowledge to clarify the meanings of items. The third level, metacomments, reflects the global strategies that arise as the reader puts the document in a societal and institutional context. The preliminary results of protocol studies indicate that the comments of the expert form user are far more likely to reflect the higher two levels of strategies than are the comments of the novice form user. Results of these studies can be used to design forms to facilitate the use of higher level strategies and to exhibit more explicitly the discourse features--cohesive devices, scenarios, instantiation--to which successful form users attend. (HOD)
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Education (ED), Washington, DC. Teaching and Learning Program.
Authoring Institution: American Institutes for Research, Washington, DC.; Siegel & Gale, Inc., New York, NY.; Carnegie-Mellon Univ., Pittsburgh, PA.