Title page for ETD etd-08192003-112623

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Lee, Young Seok
Author's Email Address yolee10@vt.edu
URN etd-08192003-112623
Title A Study of Reading with A Handheld Computer
Degree Master of Science
Department Industrial and Systems Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Smith-Jackson, Tonya L. Committee Chair
Beaton, Robert J. Committee Member
Vaccare, Carmel Committee Member
  • Mental Workload
  • Readability
  • Handheld computers
  • Personal Digital Assistant
Date of Defense 2003-08-05
Availability unrestricted
As handheld computers are becoming powerful, portable and wireless, they have recently received considerable attention in education because their multi-functionality and mobility can be used for supporting learning activities in various manner. In spite of the potential in education, handheld computers have several limitations. One of the critical limitations is the small screen size. In an attempt to find factors affecting text readability on the small screen of handheld computers, this study, first, reviewed basic reading process and reading model, previous studies examining potential factors affecting text readability on a small handheld screen.

This study investigated the effect of screen orientation and margin on reading performance (reading speed and comprehension) and subjective impressions (ease of reading, mental workload and satisfaction) with a handheld computer. A 2x2 within-subject factorial design was conducted with 16 participants reading texts from a PDA (Compaq iPAQ 3850).

The results of this study indicated that neither screen orientation nor margin had a significant influence on objective reading performance and subjective impression. It was found that there were no prevailing preference of screen orientation and margin in reading texts from a handheld computer screen. It was also found that participants had a favorable reading experience with the handheld computers. Based on results of experiments and post-experiment questionnaire, a set of recommendations was developed to improve reading from small screens of handheld computers.

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