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      Effects of Low & High Literacy on User Performance in Information Search and Retrieval


      People and Computers XXII Culture, Creativity, Interaction (HCI)

      Computers XXII Culture, Creativity, Interaction

      1 - 5 September 2008

      Low and high literacy, Information search task, Information search, Information retrieval

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          This study was part of research into understanding the nature of how low literacy users search for and retrieve information, and to therefore develop systems and user interface designs that would empower low literacy users to find information they need in the rapidly evolving e-government and e-social services environment. We compared information search and retrieval performance between high and low literacy users of a Citizens Advice Bureau information kiosk system in the UK. The kiosk provided self-help information in a number of social services areas. Six high literacy and six low literacy users were presented with information search tasks classified as having low, medium and high complexity. Key results indicate that (i) low literacy users take eight times more time than high literacy users to complete an information search task, and yet were significantly less accurate, (ii) low literacy users on average spent one-third more time on a web page than high literacy users, but did not seem to be informed by it, (iii) low literacy users employed a much less focused information search strategy than high literacy users visiting eight times more web pages in total, (iv) low literacy users back-tracked 13 times more frequently than high literacy users, and are four times more likely to re-visit web pages, and (v) low literacy users are 13 times more likely to be lost than high literacy users.

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          Author and article information

          September 2008
          September 2008
          : 173-181
          Interaction Design Centre

          School of Computing Science

          Middlesex University, London, UK

          +44 (0)79 31800 0357
          © Neesha Kodagoda et al. Published by BCS Learning and Development Ltd. People and Computers XXII Culture, Creativity, Interaction

          This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit

          People and Computers XXII Culture, Creativity, Interaction
          Conference Liverpool John Moores University, UK.
          1 - 5 September 2008
          Electronic Workshops in Computing (eWiC)
          Computers XXII Culture, Creativity, Interaction
          Product Information: 1477-9358BCS Learning & Development
          Self URI (journal page):
          Electronic Workshops in Computing


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