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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Task-type-specific use of facets in discovering online content Kessler, Kristof


As noted by Herbert Simon, the challenge presented by the rich information ecologies of our time is one of shortage of attention. Hence it is necessary for important information to stand out. This research proposes that facets used in the context of full text search, support this ‘attention getting’. Faceted search has proven to provide more effective information-seeking support to users in some situations. To date, studies have focused on specific domains typically using a specific set of facets. Consequently, little is known about the effect of faceted search on a broader range of task types. This research investigates the effect of faceted search in a task context. In this process questions about the differences in perceived usefulness and actual use, and whether systems providing facets lead to a higher user satisfaction, effectiveness, and efficiency compared to systems without this capability are answered by means of a systems review, an online questionnaire, and an experimental user study. The systems review revealed 47 potential facets used across the 12 systems perused. 14 of these facets from different levels of observed prevalence were used in the online questionnaire to determine their perceived usefulness across three types of search tasks: Doing, Known-Item, and Learning. Results of the questionnaire research show a significant difference in the perceived usefulness of the facets between Doing and Learning tasks. Six out of the 14 facets, 4 perceived as highly and 2 as less useful, were incorporated into an experimental government search system for comparison to a baseline system not providing facet capabilities. An experimental user study employing these systems found that there were some differences in the perceived usefulness and actual use of facets. Specifically, the audience facet, which received low usefulness scores in the questionnaire, was used quite frequently in the user study. Only few statistically significant differences between the baseline and experimental system were found. The most notable differences were found in Perceived Success, a measure of effectiveness, and Level of Satisfaction, a measure of satisfaction, between the first and third tasks performed in the experimental system, with the third task showing higher scores.

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