Be Quiet? Evaluating Proactive and Reactive User Interface Assistants
Stasko, John T.
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This research examined the ability of an anthropomorphic interface assistant to help people learn and use an unfamiliar text-editing tool, with a specific focus on assessing proactive a ssistant behavior. Participants in the study were introduced to a text editing system that used keypress c ombinations for invoking the different editing operations. Participants then were directed to make a set of pre scribed changes to a document with the aid either of a paper manual, an interface assistant that would hear and respond to questions orally, or an assistant that responded to questions and additionally made proactive sug gestions. Anecdotal evidence suggested that proactive assistant behavior would not enhance performance and would be viewed as intrusive. Our results showed that all three conditions performed similarly on objecti ve editing performance (completion time, commands issued, and command recall), while the participants in the l atter two conditions strongly felt that the assistant's help was valuable.