Master of Information Systems by Research
School of Economics & Information Systems, Faculty of Commerce
Ha, Hung M, The development of a spatial technical writing technique: the application of concept mapping and sentence diagramming, M.Info.Sys thesis, School of Economics & Information Systems, University of Wollongong, 2006. http://ro.uow.edu.au/theses/577
In today’s era of dynamic information technology, technical documents are becoming bigger and are updated more frequently than ever before. As a result, people have to spend a huge amount of time and efforts to digest these technical documents. At present, traditional technical writing uses word-after-word narrative writing to produce technical documents. The resulting narrative document often has language ambiguity and an inefficient concept manipulation problem which can cause a lot of difficulty for readers. In this thesis, it is proposed that concept mapping and sentence diagramming are two techniques that have the potential to effectively solve the inefficient concept manipulation and the structural language ambiguity problems of natural language narrative. The purpose of this research is therefore to offer a solution to the language ambiguity and inefficient concept manipulation problem existing in the traditional narrative technical documents. Specifically, it seeks to answer the question: is it possible to create a new technical writing technique that has its structure similar to the sentence diagramming technique, but is simpler for readers to understand, and can help readers to efficiently manipulate concepts in a text in a manner similar to that of a concept map? A developmental research method approach was adopted. The research was conducted in two phrases. The first phrase was to develop a new and more effective technical writing technique called ‘spatial technical writing’ (STW) based on concept mapping and sentence diagramming techniques. The second phrase was to conduct a small exploratory study using students to compare the STW technique with traditional x narrative. The exploratory study used a small pilot experiment with basic quantitative and qualitative measurements. The quantitative result showed that students achieved a slightly higher mark on comprehension of the narrative text test than the spatial text test. The probability analysis showed that the pilot experiment was not significant. The qualitative result revealed that the main reason that students did not do as well on the spatial text test was because they did not thoroughly understand the STW symbols used in the pilot experiment. Due to the lack of an experimental budget; the pilot experiment couldn’t test all STW symbols, and the students didn’t receive enough training to understand STW sufficiently. These two confounding variables distorted the pilot experiment and made the results of pilot experiment inconclusive. However there was enough encouragement to continue the research. The result of this pilot experiment will be used to refine the STW technique, and to plan a full-scale experiment in the future. Finally, the implication of this research is that; if the Internet based STW software is developed, it can help people to digest technical knowledge in ashorter time and with less effort than traditional narrative.
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