The study of computer graphics as decision aids has become popular among MIS researchers in the last several years. However, this area of research, like many others in management information systems, has been plagued with methodological problems and contradictory findings. In light of these difficulties, the current study examined the "tables versus graphs" controversy within a learning environment. Seventy-five MBA students were exposed to one of three experimental treatments and asked to develop financial forecasts for fictitious companies over five experimental trials. Following their forecasts for each firm, participants were provided with feedback on the quality of their decisions. The information presentation treatments were as follows:(l) traditional spreadsheet (tabular), (2) graphs using "standard" scaling, and (3) graphs using " nonstandard" scaling. Results suggest that, although graphics may initially demonstrate no advantage over tables, they do show an advantage i f decision makers are repeatedly exposed to the novel format and given feedback on their performance. L. arning will occur even when improper scaling is used. The implication is that the effectiveness of graphics as decision aids depends on practice. Researchers are encouraged to employ repeated measures, or longitudinal, designs when examining the tables-versus-graphs controversy.
DeSanctis, Gerardine and Jarvenpaa, Sirkka L., "An Investigation of the "Tables Versus Graphs" Controversy in a Learning Environment" (1985). ICIS 1985 Proceedings. 23.