Double-fading support - A training approach to complex software systems

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A new approach to software training is presented, the so-called Double-Fading Support (DFS) approach. According to this approach, which is based on Carroll's training-wheels idea and on cognitive theories of skill acquisition, two types of user support when learning to use a complex software system - locking the software's functionality and detailed guidance - are faded out gradually during the training course, so that the learners are able to use the complex software with minimal instructional support at the end of the training. Two 30-hour training experiments with two different CAD software systems and CAD-inexperienced university students were conducted. The results of Experiment 1 with 88 participants indicate the effectiveness of the DFS-approach for CAD software with a deeply structured menu system. Participants working with the initially reduced software outperformed participants of the full software functionality group; additionally, participants of the slowly faded guidance group outperformed participants receiving medium, fast or no fading of guidance at all. Results of Experiment 2 with 120 participants, however, indicate less effectiveness of the DFS-approach for an icon-based CAD software in which most of relevant functions are permanently visible to the user. It seems that the two factors (fading out the locking of software's functionality and fading out detailed guidance) overcompensate each other.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Computer Assisted Learning
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)347-357
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 12.2000
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • Application software, Empirical evaluation, Help systems, Training, Tutorial, Undergraduate
  • Psychology