Home > Articles

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

9.2 Memory Load

Callers cannot process large amounts of new information at one time and will not remember new information if it is not immediately useful to them. There are a number of techniques for creating menus, wording prompts, and providing instruction that help minimize the load on a caller's memory.

9.2.1 Menu Size

In an influential article titled "The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two," Miller (1956) described a pattern of human short-term memory in which people can store seven, plus or minus two, items. Often, designers use this as a guideline for the number of items to put in lists, menus, and so on. However, listening to sentences over the phone while trying to extract and remember information from these sentences is much more taxing than the tasks Miller used in the lab. The caller's task is more akin to the listening task in which subjects are asked to listen to a series of sentences and remember the last word of each sentence (Daneman and Carpenter 1980). In experiments using this completely auditory approach in which sentence comprehension is also taking place, people can remember only about three items on average.

Other research on human memory has shown that people naturally cluster items in threes and that recall is best when information is divided into groups of three or four items (Broadbent 1975; Wickelgren 1964). Taken together, the research results suggest that the caller's memory load should be kept quite small. A reasonable guideline is to limit menus to three or four items. Both Gardner-Bonneau (1992) and Schumacher, Hardzinski, and Schwarz (1995) make the same recommendation of four or fewer items in a menu.

9.2.2 Recency

When you write prompts, if callers are told specific words to use in response, make that the last thing they hear. For example, "To hear the list again, say, 'Repeat list'" is better than, "Say, 'Repeat list' to hear the list again." It taxes callers' memory less if the item they need to remember is the last thing they hear. This effect is often referred to as the recency effect. This ordering of function and then action in prompt wording has been adopted from standards of touchtone systems (Balentine 1999).

In addition to the recency effect, there are linguistic reasons to structure spoken sentences with the information of importance at the end. These are covered in Chapter 10.

9.2.3 Instruction

Applications that have many features and capabilities, especially those that will be used repeatedly by the same callers, often include instructional modes as part of the interactive application. Instruction sheets sent through the mail, or reminder cards with lists of commands, are not very effective. Most users do not read the instructions before attempting to use the system. Thus, applications need to be self-explanatory. It should be possible for an inexperienced user to get all needed help while using the service. We discuss two approaches here.

Tutorials

Some systems offer online tutorials, demos, or a combination of both. The option of hearing a tutorial is typically offered the first time a user calls the system. This approach is used mainly in subscription services or services that expect a lot of repeat use (for example, personal agents, banking, or brokerage account access). A tutorial consists of step-by-step instructions for using certain features of the system. A demo consists of a recorded interaction between a simulated caller and the system. The system voice speaks the prompts that are played during real system use.

Tutorials that present a demo of a user interacting with the system (CCIR-4 1999) and interactive tutorials (Kamm, Litman, and Walker 1998) have been shown to be effective instructional tools for new users. However, if too much information is provided or if the information is only described (rather than presented in an interactive mode), users have a hard time digesting it (Balogh, LeDuc, and Cohen 2001). There are two rules of thumb about tutorials:

  1. Teach only a very small number of concepts.

  2. Make it interactive. Have the caller actually perform the action.

Just-in-Time Instruction

When you need to describe a large amount of functionality, there are drawbacks to relying solely on a tutorial or demo. First, a caller will have difficulty following a lengthy description of diverse functionality. Second, if a feature is not exercised immediately, it is likely to be forgotten. In general, callers will not have the patience to listen to a lengthy description, especially if it is not helping meet their immediate needs.

The notion of just-in-time instruction can address these two limitations of tutorials (Cohen 2000). The basic idea is to provide only the instruction relevant to the task immediately at hand, just before the caller needs to perform the task. The amount of new information introduced at that point is small, and it is exercised immediately.

For example, consider a personal agent application with a rich set of capabilities. Rather than hear a detailed tutorial the first time they use the system, callers are instructed about particular capabilities the first time they access them. For example, the first time callers ask for traffic information they might get the following message:

You can get up-to-the-minute traffic reports for the major roadways in any city simply by saying the city name. You can also save time by saying the name of the road or highway and the city name. For example, you can say, "Highway 101 in San Francisco."

Just-in-time instruction can be offered the first time a caller exercises a particular capability. Additionally, you can offer instruction if a caller is having problems using the system, such as frequent rejects, timeouts, misrecognitions, and so on. If the caller is not making optimal use of system features (for example, not using shortcuts or not taking advantage of the richness of a grammar to efficiently input data), you can offer instruction.

The next two examples compare two approaches to instruction. In (2), first-time callers are offered a tutorial. The tutorial is lengthy and covers a large amount of information. It is doubtful that a caller will retain very much of what is covered, especially in future calls to the system. In (3), the application uses just-in-time instruction. The same material is covered (this example shows only the instruction on quotes and watch lists). However, it is offered in small pieces, at the time when that information is relevant and useful to the caller's current activity.

Note

(2)

SYSTEM:

Welcome to Princeton Brokerage. I can help you get quotes, set up a watch list, trade equities or options, and access your account information. To get a quote, simply say the name of the company. To set up a watch list, say, "Set up watch list," and then you will be asked for each company you want to put in your list. After you set up a watch list, you can get quotes for all of the companies on your list simply by saying, "Watch list." To make additions or deletions, say, "Edit watch list." To make a trade, say, "Buy" or "Sell," followed by the name of the company you want to trade, the number of shares, and the price. For example, you can say, "Buy a hundred shares of Intel at eighty-two," or "Sell fifty shares of Apple at the market." To trade options, say, "Options." To access your account information, say, "Account information." You will then be able to ask for your cash position, your holdings on any particular company, or a summary of all of your holdings.

Note

(3)

SYSTEM:

Welcome to Princeton Brokerage. I can help you get quotes, set up a watch list, trade equities and options, and access your account information. What would you like to do?

CALLER:

I'd like a quote.

SYSTEM:

To get a quote, just say the name of the stock, mutual fund, or index name.

CALLER:

IBM.

SYSTEM:

International Business Machines is selling at eighty two, up one point three six.

CALLER:

Cisco.

SYSTEM:

Cisco is selling at seventeen point two five, up point one seven.

CALLER:

I wanna set up a watch list.

SYSTEM:

Sure, watch list. But first, let me tell you a bit about how it works. I'm going to help you put some companies on your list. In the future, you can get quotes on your companies simply by saying, "Watch list." Now, what's the first company to add to your watch list?

CALLER:

Cisco.

SYSTEM:

What's the next company name? Or, you can say. "Finished."

CALLER:

IBM.

SYSTEM:

Tell me the next company name, or say, "Finished."

CALLER:

Intel.

SYSTEM:

Next one?

CALLER:

America Online.

SYSTEM:

Next?

CALLER:

<pause>

SYSTEM:

Sorry, what's the next company name? <pause> Or just say, "Finished."

CALLER:

I'm finished.

SYSTEM:

Okay! Now whenever you want to get quotes for the companies on your watch list, just say, "Watch list." And to add or delete a company, say, "Edit my watch list." Now, what would you like to do next?

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020