The correlation between user's cognitive abilities and web page perception in MOOCS
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The problem that relies on the World Wide Web is the heavy load of information on web pages which causes a cognitive overload and therefore affects user's perception and ability to interact with web pages. This study investigates the visual perception of an individual while interacting with online educational environments (MOOC websites). The objective of the study was to understand the user cognitive effort required when interacting with online educational environments and understand the relationship between web page visual complexity and user cognitive abilities in terms of their perceptual style (FD-I dimension). This relationship was examined by classifying participants based on their perceptual style (field dependent and field independent) and perform tasks within websites that had different visual complexity. The visual complexity metrics had been calculated prior the run of the experiment with the use of visual complexity algorithm known as ViCRAM. The correlation of time needed for a participant to complete the task within a webpage and the visual complexity score of that webpage, had lead the study to draw a variety of conclusions regarding how visual complexity affects each cognitive group. Moreover the study had collected quantitative and qualitative data that played a tremendous role in the understanding of this relationship. Another tool that had been used in the study and also helped grasp how the user interact within the examined web pages is the use of a special software that tracked the participants’ mouse moves while searching for objects within web pages. Based on all of the above the relationship between visual perception and visual complexity has been investigated. Valuable outputs have been produced such as a set of guidelines for developing less complex websites and a set of suggestions for the improvement of the complexity algorithm ViCRAM. It is also important to mention that because the study had to analyze a relationship inevitably a lot of aspects have been examined. For example some of the aspects that had been analyzed in the study are: website structure, coloring, font choice and font sizes, complexity of html elements, factors that affect complexity, difference between user’s cognitive abilities in term of their perceptual dimension and investigation , use of mouse tracking devices and other aspects.