Thinking Style and Hypermedia Navigation Behavior



There is a common assumption that hypermedia navigation is influenced by a learner’s style of thinking, so people who are inclined to apply sequential and analytical strategies (left-thinkers) are thought to browse hypermedia in a linear way, whereas those who prefer holistic and intuitive strategies (right-thinkers) tend towards non-linear paths. An experiment was conducted to study both the effects of students’ style of thinking on hypermedia navigation and the effects of primes aimed at inducing them to browse the hypermedia according to a given strategy. Two hundred undergraduates in different faculties were asked to visit a website. Navigation was preceded by some initial tasks (primes) that activated either the left- or the right-thinking style; 50 men and 50 women were randomly assigned to each of the two kinds of primes. Then participants were free to browse the hypermedia and navigational paths were tracked down. When navigation had been completed, a questionnaire measuring a preference for either the left- or the right-thinking style was filled out by participants. Analyses showed that primes influenced hypermedia navigation, leading participants to apply strategies consistent with the initial tasks. The participants’ age and faculty did not influence their behaviour in navigation. Gender and frequency of computer use determined some minor differences in hypermedia browsing, whereas there was no evidence of any relationship between thinking style and behaviour in navigation.”

Some Thoughts About This Study:
I think this study is worth expanding to consider some factors that may influence the findings, these include the following:

  • User-Content Interest level (user’s perceived value of the content – as labeled)
  • Relevance in navigation layout (how the links are grouped)
  • Linear content (content labeled linearly e.g. “step one”)
  • Low interaction experience (cases of very little or no hypermedia interaction experience)
  • User’s Goals (purpose)
  • Frequency of visit (first-time visitor and returning visitor)


Thinking Style, Browsing Primes and Hypermedia Navigation
By: Lorenzo Fiorina ; Alessandro Antonietti ; Barbara Colombo ; Annella Bartolomeo
Format: Article
Year: 2007
Published in: Computers & Education Nov 2007 Vol 49(3) 916-941.


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