Why Graphic Organizers Facilitate Search Processes: Fewer Words or Computationally Efficient Indexing?
Abstract Three experiments investigated how quickly and accurately students could locate information contained in different types of displays. Undergraduates read multiple-choice questions and then searched either texts, outlines, or graphic organizers to find information needed to answer the questions. In Experiments 1 and 2, students who searched either graphic organizers or outlines found answers to fact questions more quickly than those who searched text, and students who searched graphic organizers found answers to comparison questions more quickly than those who searched either outlines or text. In Experiment 3, all three displays contained the same number of words to remove a potential confound in Experiments 1 and 2. Results indicated that those who searched graphic organizers found the answer to a pattern question more quickly than those who searched either outlines or text. These findings suggest that the facilitative advantage of graphic organizers in locating information is attributable to computationally efficient indexing rather than fewer words.