Maps or analogies? A comparison of instructional aids for menu navigation

J. M. Webb, A. F. Kramer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigated the relative efficacy of a variety of spatial maps and analogies as instructional aids for the learning and navigation of hierarchical data bases. Subjects performed single- and multi-node retrieval tasks with novel data bases. The results of Experiment 1 indicated that subjects who studied an analogy prior to performing data retrieval tasks were less affected by increasing search distance than were subjects who studied a spatial map. The results of Experiment 2 suggested that the benefits of analogy relative to other instructional aids increased as time passed between initial instruction and interaction with the data base. A comparison of the findings in Experiments 1 and 2 indicated that ''generic'' analogies, which can be applied to a number of data bases, are as effective as more specific, literal similarities. The findings are discussed in terms of models of analogy as well as implications for the design of instructional materials for data base navigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-266
Number of pages16
JournalHuman Factors
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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