Age Differences in a Website Search Task: Older vs.Younger Adults' Navigation and Memory Outcomes

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This study investigated age differences in performance and memory during a website search task. Older adults (53-82 years old) were compared to younger adults (1st year university students). Two navigation tools were used; a hierarchical list and a hierarchical map. Participants completed a 10-question information search. Data on speed, search accuracy and number of pages accessed and revisited was collected during the task. Measures of recall and recognition of the website material were taken immediately after the search task. The results showed that younger adults outperformed older adults on all measures except the recognition scores, which were comparable across the two groups. In addition, older adults revisited more pages than younger adults. The two navigation tools had different effects on the memory outcomes. Both older and younger adults who were given a hierarchical list rather than a hierarchical map had lower scores on recall and recognition of the website material. Also, older adults given the hierarchical list had more page transitions than those given the hierarchical map suggesting a different strategy was chosen to compensate for the lack of support from the navigation tool. A discussion on the implications for continuing education for older adults versus postsecondary education for younger adults is included.


Keywords: Website Navigation, Age Differences, Memory Effects, Navigation Tools
Stream: Technology in Education
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Dr. Patricia Boechler

Associate Professor, Educational Psychology, University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Patricia M. Boechler has a Ph.D in psychology from the University of Alberta. Her research focuses on the cognitive and learning processes related to multimedia, video games and virtual reality environments. Her current research includes projects on the influence of navigation tools on user performance in websites, statistical methods for analyzing human-computer interaction data, virtual reality applications for rehabilitation and cognitive correlates of performance in relation to video gaming.

Rebecca Watchorn

PhD student, Department of Psychology, University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


Dr. Dennis Foth

Professor, Faculty of Extension, University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Dennis Foth has served in academic and administrative positions at the University of British Columbia (1970-75), Simon Fraser University (1975-1985) and the University of Alberta (1985- present). In addition to teaching, research and participation in a number of academic and professional associations, he is the Chair of the Certificate in Adult and Continuing Education Consortium, comprised of the University of Alberta, University of Saskatchewan, University of Manitoba and University of Victoria. Dr. Foth's current scholarly interests include organizational aspects of continuing education within universities, the provision of university continuing education nationally, cognitive facilitation in older adults, and factors that influence participation of older adults in continuing education.

Ref: T08P0279