Die Textstruktur als Navigationssystem: Lesepfade und ihre Auswirkung auf das Verstehen von Informationen im Medium Hypertext.


  • Margit Reitbauer Universit├Ąt Graz


In this empirical study on navigational behavior the influence of the independent variable textual structure on the dependent variables reading speed and comprehension was tested on the basis of three different hypertext structures. For this purpose a source text on the topic of speed reading was transformed into a linear, an axial and a networked hypertext. The subjects in this test series were 60 students of English and American studies from the University of Graz, who were all at level C1 according to the Common European Framework. The results of the one-way analysis of variance show a highly significant effect of the variable textual structure on reading comprehension (p=, 005, Duncan Post Hoc Test). The axial text structure, which is hierarchically organized, led to the best comprehension results. However, no significant evidence for a relationship between textual structure and reading speed could be provided. Data gathered from interviews conducted after the online reading test suggests that the segmentation of textual information through the use of hyperlinks facilitates the recognition of semantic relations between functional text components. Links are perceived as providing additional cohesive features which allow identifying the hierarchical organization of macropropositions within texts. Moreover, hierarchically organized hypertexts cause least navigational problems and facilitate the locating of information. Another finding is that prototypical hypertext structures trigger prototypical navigational behavior. In the final section of the paper, the relevance of the presented results to Web design and the development of adaptive hypertexts are discussed.