Affordable Access

Publisher Website

Support for users of operating systems and applications software

International Journal of Man-Machine Studies
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0020-7373(81)80058-2
  • Computer Science
  • Education
  • Medicine
  • Social Sciences


Computer-users in universities need computing facilities to aid them in their research and teaching; they are not computer professionals nor, for them, is the writing of programs an end in itself. To enable them to make good use of the facilities, guidance is provided in the form of documentation, courses, face-to-face advice and computerbased HELP systems. A study of the attitudes of users in eight British universities to computing, and particularly to guidance services for operating systems and applications software, is described. The overall evaluation of the guidance given was extremely favourable, although approval ratings for documentation were lower than for face-to-face advice for all kinds of software. Very few users had attended any kind of formal course, apart from those who had studied computing as undergraduates. As far as diagnostic advice was concerned, in general users chose as their first source of help either their colleagues or members of computer centre staff in about equal proportions. This was subject to variation depending on both the discipline of the user and the nature of the software concerned. As a general rule, users were more likely to turn to the computer centre for help in areas where the software was not in widespread use among their colleagues. This contrasts with the widely-held view that advisory services are used disproportionately by those in the social sciences, humanities and medicine. Areas needing further study include the role of the group in aiding problemsolving, and the identification of methods of guidance most appropriate to particular problem areas.

There are no comments yet on this publication. Be the first to share your thoughts.