Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Computing, Engineering & Construction

Degree Name

Master of Science in Computer and Information Sciences (MS)



First Advisor

Dr. Layne Wallace


This study tested the effectiveness of three screen interface formats for use in a proposed on-board computer to be used as part of an advanced train control system. One of the three formats contained only graphic depictions of the data, one contained only textual representations and the third had a mixture of graphic and textual data.

Twenty-eight subjects with varying railroad experience were recruited for the experiment. They were divided into three groups, each of which was presented with a simulation using one of the three interface types. The simulations depicted possible engine, track and train conditions that might be displayed on the computer screen of an operating locomotive.

An Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) found no significant difference between the scores of the three groups tested. A second ANOVA detected no significant difference in the preferences of the three groups tested for a particular simulation format. These results contest the general assumption that graphic representations of data are always superior to text. Also, the effectiveness of a data display format depends largely on the nature of the task to be performed [Dickson86].