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The Help Seeking Situation is characterized by a person, who is engaged in the process of information seeking with an IR system in order to achieve his/her tasks/goals, and finds him/herself needing some sort of help in using the system in order to accomplish these. To date, there has been little research investigating the types of Help-seeking situations that lead users to look for help. This paper reports a preliminary study of a large scale research project focusing on the identification of different types of Help situations, along with types of help features used and their related problems. Seventeen subjects representing the general public in Milwaukee and New York sites were selected for this preliminary study. Based on the analysis of pre and post questionnaires, think aloud, and transaction logs, the results present 9 types of Help-seeking situations related to the problems in the area of domain knowledge, system knowledge, information retrieval knowledge, evaluation of results, and collections of digital libraries. Further implication for the design of interactive Help mechanisms is also discussed.
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