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Creators/Authors contains: "Ward, Austin R."

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  1. Abstract

    Exploratory searches involve significant cognitively demanding aiming at learning and investigation. However, users gain little support from search engines for their cognitive and metacognitive activities (e.g., discovery, synthesis, planning, transformation, monitoring, and reflection) during exploratory searches. To better support the exploratory search process, we designed a new search assistance tool called OrgBox. OrgBox allows users to drag‐and‐drop information they find during searches into “boxes” and “items” that can be created, labeled, and rearranged on a canvas. We conducted a controlled, within‐subjects user study with 24 participants to evaluate the OrgBox versus a baseline tool called the OrgDoc that supported rich‐text features. Our findings show that participants perceived the OrgBox tool to provide more support for grouping and reorganizing information, tracking thought processes, planning and monitoring search and task processes, and gaining a visual overview of the collected information. The usability test reveals users' preferences for simplicity, familiarity, and flexibility of the design of OrgBox, along with technical problems such as delay of response and restrictions of use. Our results have implications for the design of search‐assisting systems that encourage cognitive and metacognitive activities during exploratory search processes.

     
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  2. null (Ed.)
    In this paper, we demonstrate the Information Interactions in Virtual Reality (IIVR) system designed and implemented to study how users interact with abstract information objects in immersive virtual environments in the context of information retrieval. Virtual reality displays are quickly growing as social and personal computing media, and understanding user interactions in these immersive environments is imperative. As a step towards effective information retrieval in such emerging platforms, our system is central to upcoming studies to observe how users engage in information triaging tasks in Virtual Reality (VR). In these studies, we will observe the effects of (1) information layouts and (2) types of interactions in VR. We believe this early system motivates researchers in understanding and designing meaningful interactions for future VR information retrieval applications. 
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  3. In this paper, we present results from an exploratory study to investigate users’ behaviors and preferences for three different styles of search results presentation in a virtual reality (VR) head-mounted display (HMD). Prior work in 2D displays has suggested possible benefits of presenting information in ways that exploit users’ spatial cognition abilities. We designed a VR system that displays search results in three different spatial arrangements: a list of 8 results, a 4x5 grid, and a 2x10 arc. These spatial display conditions were designed to differ in terms of the number of results displayed per page (8 vs 20) and the amount of head movement required to scan the results (list < grid < arc). Thirty-six participants completed 6 search trials in each display condition (18 total). For each trial, the participant was presented with a display of search results and asked to find a given target result or to indicate that the target was not present. We collected data about users’ behaviors with and perceptions about the three display conditions using interaction data, questionnaires, and interviews. We explore the effects of display condition and target presence on behavioral measures (e.g., completion time, head movement, paging events, accuracy) and on users’ perceptions (e.g., workload, ease of use, comfort, confidence, difficulty, and lostness). Our results suggest that there was no difference in accuracy among the display conditions, but that users completed tasks more quickly using the arc. However, users also expressed lower preferences for the arc, instead preferring the list and grid displays. Our findings extend prior research on visual search into to the area of 3-dimensional result displays for interactive information retrieval in VR HMD environments. 
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  4. Researchers in interactive information retrieval (IIR) have studied and refined 2D presentations of search results for years. Recent advances are bringing augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to real-world systems, though the IIR community has done relatively little work to explore and understand aspects of 3D presentations of search results, effects of immersive environments, and the impacts of spatial cognition and different spatial arrangements of results displays in 3D. In the research proposed here, I outline my plan to use immerse environments to investigate how users’ spatial cognition may influence the information retrieval process. Specifically, this work will observe how spatial arrangements of search results affect users’ ability to find information in the postquery, visual search phase of the IIR process across quantitative and qualitative measures. 
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