Reading from a Palm Pilot™ Using RSVP
study is a continuation of our ongoing research into the feasibility of
using the text presentation method known as Rapid Serial Visual
Presentation (RSVP) as a possible means of reading on small screen interfaces.
2000 issue of Usability News, we reported on an exploratory study
comparing RSVP and two other text presentation methods -- ten lines and
three lines of automatic text presentation (Bernard,
Chaparro, & Russell, 2000). In the Winter 2001 issue we reported on a study
concerned with a comparison of reading efficiency with text presented in
RSVP using different sized fonts (Russell, Hull, & Wesley, 2001).
Based on these initial experiments, we were encouraged about the
possibility of RSVP as a method of text presentation for small
electronic devices such as PDA’s, cellular phones, and pagers.
Twenty college students volunteered for this study (4 men, 16 women) and ranged in age from 18 to 52 (M = 26.7). Participants were 34% Freshmen, 5% Sophomores, 45% Seniors, and 15% Graduate Students. Twenty percent of participants had experience using a personal digital assistant (PDA), and 10% had previous experience with RSVP. All subjects were screened for 20/20 or 20/20 corrected vision before testing using a Snellen near acuity chart.
ProcedureThe two variables of interest were (1) the text presentation format, which was comprised of the RSVP and the traditional page-like format of Palm Reader™; and (2) reading speed. Within the RSVP condition, the text presentation was automated and was set to the rates of 250, 450 and 650 words per minute (wpm). Presentation rate in the traditional reading format was not controlled, but average reading times for participants in each condition was collected. This provided a total of four possible conditions: RSVP at 250 wpm, RSVP at 450 wpm, RSVP at 650 wpm, and Palm Reader™. The order of presentation format, presentation rate, and passage number was counterbalanced across participants, with each participant being presented three passages for each of the four conditions. The dependent variables were reading comprehension, satisfaction, and preference.
Participants were tested under each of the four conditions, reading first a practice passage followed by three test passages for each condition. In addition to the initial practice passage, all participants were given three preliminary practice passages before testing began under any RSVP condition, in order to provide some familiarity with this format. After answering the comprehension questions for the three test passages in each condition, participants then answered a reading satisfaction questionnaire. The questionnaire asked them to rate their level of satisfaction with the format they had just experienced on a 10-point scale with regard to various aspects of reading, including ease of reading, physical and mental fatigue, the ability to concentrate, and desire to read in RSVP format for leisure or work.
completion of all testing, participants completed a post-experiment
questionnaire in which participants’ ranked their preference across
Results and Discussion Reading Performance
Results and Discussion
Each reading passage had an associated
set of four multiple-choice questions. Mean scores for
the percentage of correct responses for the three tests
given under each condition were calculated (see below).
A dependent sample t-test was performed
to compare the average reading speeds for participants under the
(M = 229) condition, and the RSVP condition at 250
wpm. No significant difference was found between the two groups [t (19) = 2.06, p. >
.05]. These results indicate that the
participants were apparently
able to comprehend text presented via RSVP at 250 wpm and via the Palm
(at their own reading speed)
equally well. However, once the rate of presentation in RSVP increased,
performance decreased (see Figure 1).
These results indicate that the participants were apparently able to comprehend text presented via RSVP at 250 wpm and via the Palm Reader™ (at their own reading speed) equally well. However, once the rate of presentation in RSVP increased, performance decreased (see Figure 1).
1. Reading Comprehension across
conditions (percent correct).
Participants were asked to rate their level of satisfaction on a number of items after testing under each of the four conditions. Results of one-way ANOVA’s were significant and similar with regard to several questions: (1) whether the passages were easy to read; (2) whether they were able to concentrate while reading; and (3) how confident participants were that they sufficiently comprehended the reading material. For all of these questions, participant responses indicated the highest satisfaction was with the Palm Reader™, followed by the RSVP at 250 wpm, and then the remaining two RSVP conditions in order of increasing presentation rate.
On the issue of the level of perceived
eyestrain experienced during the reading of the passages, an ANOVA on the
satisfaction responses showed a significant difference [F (3,57) = 27.529,
p. < .05]. Post hoc testing
revealed only the
condition as significantly different from any other
condition. Participants apparently
perceived significantly less
eyestrain with the Palm Reader™
to the RSVP, regardless of the speed of presentation in RSVP.
Participants were also asked to rate
their overall comfort level with the presentation rate for each of the
RSVP conditions. An ANOVA on these ratings revealed a significant
difference between all three presentation rates [F (2,38) = 40.67, p.
< .05]. Participants were therefore more
satisfied with the slower automated presentation rate.
Participants were asked to rank the automated presentation rates they read with the RSVP format. Using a Friedman test, significant differences were detected [c2 (2) = 34.9, p < .05]. Post hoc analysis indicated that the 250 and 450 wpm were significantly preferred over the 650 wpm.
Results from this study reveal differences in comprehension between RSVP conditions of differing presentation rates (250, 450, and 650 wpm), but not between the RSVP at 250 wpm and the Palm Reader™ condition. Participants were therefore able to read material as efficiently whether from RSVP or from the traditional page-like format at their own natural reading speed. Despite this comparable performance between these conditions, participants were generally less satisfied with the RSVP, when compared to Palm Reader™, regardless of the rate of text presentation.
These results are in keeping with our previous research. It was not unusual for the participants to express some dislike of the RSVP format, considering it is a new and very different method of reading. However, what is interesting is the fact that, despite their preferences, users, who had little or no experience with RSVP, were still able to read as accurately as they read with Palm Reader™ and at a comparable speed.
object of this research was not to promote the use of the RSVP format
simply as an end unto itself. Rather,
it is the application of an old tool to a new problem. Small screen
interfaces are a daily reality, and with
them come the problem of how best to display text for the user in a
limited amount of space. As this research progresses, the use of RSVP in this regard is consistently
being shown to be a functionally
of addressing this problem. However, future research in this area should
not only address the usability of the format, but ways to increase user
AceReader Pro Copyright © 1996-2001,
StepWare, Inc. All rights reserved. StepWare and AceReader Pro are
registered trademarks of StepWare, Inc.
Bernard, M., Chaparro, B. & Russell,
M. (2000). Is RSVP a Solution for Reading from Small Displays? Usability
News 2.2. [Online].
Reader Copyright © 2001, Palm, Inc. All rights
reserved. Palm and Palm Reader are registered trademarks of Palm, Inc.
Russell, M., Hull, J.
& Wesley, R. (2001). Reading with RSVP on a Small Screen: Does Font
Size Matter? Usability News 3.1.