- The purpose of this study was to test the value of a touch-sensitive computer system (TSCS) in a park visitors center. Focus was on the application of an information system designed to assist visitor parties in satisfying activity needs within a national park. A touch-sensitive program was developed that addressed activity alternatives available within Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GRSM). Visiting parties could interact with the computer specifying three activities (from a list including: hiking, viewing waterfalls and streams, visiting old cabins, barns and mills, auto touring, viewing scenic vistas, and observing wildlife) in which they would like to participate. Data were collected from 735 computer program users. The primary analyses were performed on 274 computer-user parties who stated that they had found information via the computer that was new to them and that they would consider using.
A structured questionnaire and follow-up postcard questionnaire were developed through a review of previous park-user studies conducted at GRSM, computer programming literature and recommendations from earlier TSCS studies. Data analyses were primarily exploratory in nature. Descriptive statistics were used in all phases of the analyses.
Two hundred (out of 274) parties who took a copy of the activity-alternative itinerary returned the follow-up postcards. Of these, 93 percent expressed satisfaction with the itinerary for meeting activity interests. When program users (n = 274) were asked to state why their activity interests were satisfied or not, the most common (n = 44) response was "It gave us what we were looking for.".
It was concluded that the use of high technology within a natural resource setting does not appear to alter negatively a party's experience in the park. Regardless of the age of the users, parties found the system easy to use. The idea of incorporating more than one party member's interest into the day's activities appeared to be well received.
Recommendations for future study include: comparisons of different types (graphic and audio capabilities) of touch-sensitive systems and their abilities to perform in trip-planning assistance functions; analyses to determine if different types of computer dialogues provide varying amounts of satisfaction within user parties; and a comparative study between computer users and non-users focusing on party satisfaction with the information received about their preferred activity options.
- Dissertation Note:
- Ph.D. The Pennsylvania State University 1985.
- Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 46-09, Section: A, page: 2808.
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