Design and evaluation of a web-based training tool for the User Action Framework Explorer

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Virginia Tech


explosion in the use of computing and interactive systems of all kinds. This growth has brought with it an awareness among developers of interactive systems about the importance of user centered design and usability. In the Virginia Tech Usability tools lab, efforts are underway to develop tools and processes that assist in usability evaluation. This has led to the development of the User Action Framework (UAF) (Andre et al., 1999), a framework that forms the basis of several usability inspection tools like the Explorer, UPI (Usability Problem Inspector), UPC (Usability Problem Classifier) and the usability problem database. The UAF explorer is the tool in the toolkit, which allows users to explore and learn the structure of the UAF. The framework, in its final stages of development, is based on an interaction cycle derived from Norman's action model (1986). For its acceptance, the user action framework, which is based on human factors and cognitive concepts, needed a training program to make it accessible and understandable to the usability practioners in industry and academia.

This thesis addressed the following research activities: (1) Developing a web-based training tool for the User Action Framework explorer and (2) Evaluating a web- based training tool using various formative evaluation techniques and a final summative evaluation to measure effectiveness of the training, transfer of training, knowledge/skill acquisition and reaction to the training.

The summative evaluation used a pretest-posttest between subjects experimental design to determine the effectiveness of the training tool with the use of lecture-based training as a control group. The data collection included objective measures of performance and subjective measures through questionnaires and rating scales. The summative evaluation found no significant differences between gain scores on lecture-based training and web-based training under controlled conditions.

Opportunities for future research were identified and the training tool is expected to contribute to the efforts of the VT usability tools lab towards educating usability professionals and researchers alike on the usefulness of the User Action Framework and its associated tools. This work also seeks to proliferate the use of web based training methods as a valuable way to train remote learners on such developing frameworks and toolkits.



web based training, training tool, UAF, User action framework, usability, human factors