Electronic Theses and Dissertations


Greg Jordan



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Loel Kim

Committee Member

Michael J Albers

Committee Member

Elizabeth T Lane

Committee Member

Emily A Thrush


Software has become central to every part of modern life and supports everything from managing personal schedules to managing global supply chain systems. In creating new or updating existing software, software developers often need to incorporate new technology. When software developers learn new technology using tutorials, their experience with secondary technologies–the technologies that accompany or complement the new technology–can have an impact on the comprehension of the new technology being covered. Based on this understanding, I designed a mixed methods study focused on a group of software learning a new technology to examine the following questions: 1. Does prior knowledge of a supporting technology affect learning a new technology? 2: Does providing external code examples of a secondary, supporting technology in a tutorial help make learning a new technology more effective? Nine participants were drawn from the researcher's professional network of programmers, each of whom reported at least some Java programming experience (secondary technology) but lacked experience with the primary technology being introduced. During individual, remote usability sessions, each participant read a tutorial and completed tasks based on the tutorial. The study's data was the result of the usability sessions, surveys, and feedback after each session. The sample size for this study resulted in rich data collected from sessions was used to discover if problems existed with the tutorial's approach, as well as to help. Overall, the analysis supports the limited prior research in that participants experienced no significant usability problems with the tutorial’s design approach, which accounted for learners’ knowledge of a secondary program language, Java, by providing Java code examples in the tutorial. It also suggests that this approach did not introduce problems based on prior experience with the supporting technology. However, a larger sample group in a longer-term study should be conducted to expand the range and types of data being collected and analyzed as well as provide statistical validity. In addition, new survey questions could further quantify and classify "prior knowledge of the supporting technology" as well as open comparisons with participants who do not have prior experience the supporting technology to those who have experience.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest.


Open access