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Van der Meij, H. & Gellevij, M.R.M. (2002). Effects of pictures, age and experience on learning to use a computer program. Technical Communication, 49(3), 330-339.
This study examines the effects of pictures (screen captures and input devices), on documentation for (older) novices. Participants were 115 adults. They were given one of four types of manuals (with or without screen captures, and with or without input device depicted). There was no main effect of pictures, but there were statistically significant interactions between type of picture and the factors age and computer experience. As predicted, the most optimized designs -the ones presenting screen captures- moderated the negative effects of age.
We argue that screen captures help reduce two problems in the cognitive area that are especially troublesome for older users, namely memory load and visual scanning. The screen captures also were helpful for the more experienced novices who remained ahead of the less experienced novices. The paper concludes with a discussion of the need to consider cognitive and physical factors to optimize designs for older novices.