Error-information in tutorial documentation: Supporting users' errors to facilitate initial skill learning

Adrianus W. Lazonder, Hans van der Meij

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademic

25 Citations (Scopus)
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Novice users make many errors when they first try to learn how to work with a computer program like a spreadsheet or wordprocessor. No matter how user-friendly the software or the training manual, errors can and will occur. The current view on errors is that they can be helpful or disruptive, depending on the extent to which they are controlled in the learning process. This study examines one of the ways in which such error control can be brought about, namely by investigating the design and role of error-information in a (tutorial) manual. The error-information was designed to support the detection, diagnosis and correction of errors of novice users, and it was based on a general model of error-handling. In an experiment a manual that contained ample error-information was compared to a manual in which there was hardly any error-information. The outcomes showed that the presence of the error-information in the manual helped subjects perform better during practice as well as after practice. Among others, these subjects completed training faster and showed superior corrective knowledge and skill after practice, in addition to having acquired the same level of constructive skill. The discussion addresses the compensating roles of support for error-handling on screen and on paper.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)185-206
JournalInternational journal of human-computer studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1995


  • METIS-135362
  • IR-26711

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