The user's sense of control in Word Processing applications: the user’s experience
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This dissertational research focused on the user’s sense of control while interacting with a word processing application, namely Microsoft Word. The topic was initially motivated by the researcher’s interest in Csiksentmihalyi's construct of flow which has sense of control as an important dimension and contributing factor. This study used a usability focused methodology in order to ground the investigation and analysis in users’ actual experiences, perceptions, and preferences. Analysis of the six usability tests generated some insights into users’ sense of control in word processing applications. The degrees of confidence, the importance of the tasks the word application was being used for, and the different learning stages the users were in relation to the word application all impacted on the users’ experiences of control. Animated software agents and interruptions were also identified as repeated themes in the data. Methodology-wise, some refinements of usability testing were proposed which could benefit those conducting usability tests.