Date of Award

Fall 2005

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Professional and Technical Communication - (M.S.)

Department

Humanities

First Advisor

Norbert Elliot

Second Advisor

Nancy Steffen-Fluhr

Third Advisor

W. Patrick Beaton

Abstract

This descriptive research investigated usability measures reported by subjects who reviewed procedures formatted as decision tables and numbered lists taken from a microchip product specification document. The research subjects (n = 15) are employees of Agere Systems (headquartered in Allentown Pennsylvania, United States) where this researcher also worked as a technical writer. Subjects represented various national origins and were stratified into two groups of six Eastern and nine Western.

The independent variables, presentation type, perceived credibility, and perceived validity were studied for their interaction with the dependent variable, usability. The variable model was queried between the two groups. Three findings included the following:

1. Subjects from Western cultures reported higher scores for perceived credibility and perceived validity when reviewing procedures formatted as tables than those formatted as numbered lists (t = 2.226, p = 0.027).

2. Subjects from Eastern cultures reported higher scores than subjects from Western cultures on measures of perceived credibility when reviewing procedures formatted as both tables and numbered lists (t = 2.822, p = 0.005).

3. Subjects from Eastern cultures reported lower scores than subjects from Western cultures on measures of perceived validity when reviewing procedures formatted as both tables and numbered lists (t = -2.120, p = 0.035).

These are preliminary findings; the research was an exploratory effort to derive testable hypotheses for a future study designed to enroll larger populations under more strictly controlled experimental settings.

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