A Study of Multi-Document Active Reading in Analog and Digital Environments

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Abstract

Despite the many improvements in the digital domain, knowledge workers still frequently switch between digital and analog materials and tools during their work. In doing so, they accept "switching costs" (such as time and resources) to perform active reading and related activities in their preferred (analog) environment. Previous studies show that active reading is more efficient using analog materials and tools than using digital ones. However, up to now, it is not fully understood what exactly leads to the superiority of analog active reading over digital active reading. The goal of this thesis is to directly compare the behaviors and strategies employed by users during active reading of multiple documents in analog and digital environments. This comparison serves to gain more detailed insights into which (sub-)areas of active reading (annotating, highlighting, note-taking, and spatial organization) are different in the two environments, what might be possible reasons for these differences, and most importantly, how to improve the experience of digital active reading in the future. As part of the comparison, it is also possible to determine whether analog active reading is still more efficient than digital active reading when using a large screen that provides a similar amount of space as an analog workstation. Thus, in a qualitative, controlled, partly confirmatory, partly exploratory, user study, users' behaviors and strategies during active reading of multiple documents in analog and digital environments are compared to investigate the previously mentioned aspects. The results show that analog active reading is still more efficient than digital active reading despite the use of a large screen. Additionally, the evaluation was able to identify differences in behaviors and adaptations of strategies used due to the accessibility and availability of tools. In particular, there is still considerable potential for improvement in the area of spatial organization during digital active reading.

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BibTeX

@mastersthesis{mahler-2021-mdar,
  title =      "A Study of Multi-Document Active Reading in Analog and
               Digital Environments",
  author =     "Jasmin Mahler",
  year =       "2021",
  abstract =   "Despite the many improvements in the digital domain,
               knowledge workers still frequently switch between digital
               and analog materials and tools during their work. In doing
               so, they accept "switching costs" (such as time and
               resources) to perform active reading and related activities
               in their preferred (analog) environment. Previous studies
               show that active reading is more efficient using analog
               materials and tools than using digital ones. However, up to
               now, it is not fully understood what exactly leads to the
               superiority of analog active reading over digital active
               reading. The goal of this thesis is to directly compare the
               behaviors and strategies employed by users during active
               reading of multiple documents in analog and digital
               environments. This comparison serves to gain more detailed
               insights into which (sub-)areas of active reading
               (annotating, highlighting, note-taking, and spatial
               organization) are different in the two environments, what
               might be possible reasons for these differences, and most
               importantly, how to improve the experience of digital active
               reading in the future. As part of the comparison, it is also
               possible to determine whether analog active reading is still
               more efficient than digital active reading when using a
               large screen that provides a similar amount of space as an
               analog workstation. Thus, in a qualitative, controlled,
               partly confirmatory, partly exploratory, user study, users'
               behaviors and strategies during active reading of multiple
               documents in analog and digital environments are compared to
               investigate the previously mentioned aspects. The results
               show that analog active reading is still more efficient than
               digital active reading despite the use of a large screen.
               Additionally, the evaluation was able to identify
               differences in behaviors and adaptations of strategies used
               due to the accessibility and availability of tools. In
               particular, there is still considerable potential for
               improvement in the area of spatial organization during
               digital active reading.",
  month =      may,
  address =    "Favoritenstrasse 9-11/E193-02, A-1040 Vienna, Austria",
  school =     "Research Unit of Computer Graphics, Institute of Visual
               Computing and Human-Centered Technology, Faculty of
               Informatics, TU Wien",
  URL =        "https://www.cg.tuwien.ac.at/research/publications/2021/mahler-2021-mdar/",
}