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Adapting communicative strategies to computer mediated communication: an analysis of task performance and dialogue structure

Sanford, Alison and Anderson, A. and Mullin, J. (2003) Adapting communicative strategies to computer mediated communication: an analysis of task performance and dialogue structure. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 17 (3). pp. 325-348.

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Abstract

This study investigates how people adapt to text-based computer-mediated communication (CMC), specifically focusing on how novice users change their communicative strategies over time to achieve effective communication. Twenty pairs of university students completed three collaborative problem-solving tasks (The Map Task; Brown et al., [1984]), over a series of days. Their performance was compared with the results from spoken interactions, taken from the Human Communications Research Centre corpus of Map Task dialogues. Task performance by CMC participants was initially poorer when compared to the performance of spoken interlocutors, but improved as they gained experience of the CMC context. Detailed analysis of the process of communication, using dialogue measures and Conversational Games Analysis (Kowtko et al., [1992]), shows that effective communication and collaboration was achieved by users of the CMC system after a relatively moderate amount of experience. Participants in the CMC context changed the way in which they gave instructions and interacted over time. They adopted a precise, highly specified style of giving directions which required little interpretation by addressees. This concise style of communication is rarely found in face-to-face or spoken interactions.