Training for Web search: Will it get you in shape?
Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology
Two of the experimental treatments were based on the type of training the users received. The first of these treatments was the presence or absence of training on the principles of the use of Boolean operators, henceforth referred to as logic training. The second was the presence or absence of training that focused on the specific characteristics of the assisted search interface, which we will refer to as interface training. The third treatment was the type of interface used by the
... namely, simple or assisted. The impacts of logic and interface training and the type of search interface used on correctness, time, satisfaction, and confidence were measured and analyzed. Given that time is money, Web searching can be a very expensive proposition. Even with the best search technology, the usefulness of search results depends on the searcher's ability to use that technology effectively. In an effort to improve this ability, our research investigates the effects of logic training, interface training, and the type of search interface on the search process. In a study with 145 participants, we found that even limited training in basic Boolean logic improved performance with a simple search interface. Surprisingly, for users of an interface that assisted them in forming syntactically correct Boolean queries, performance was negatively affected by logic training and unaffected by interface training. Use of the assisted interface itself, however, resulted in strong improvements in performance over use of the simple interface. In addition to being useful for search engine providers, these findings are important for all companies that rely heavily on search for critical aspects of their operations, in that they demonstrate simple means by which the search experience can be improved for their employees and customers.