WebGrid III is an update of our WebGrid II program that is compatible with it and offers the same mode of operation for basic repertory grid elicitation. In addition, WebGrid III offers new modes of operation that make more capabilities available.

Improved Elicitation Features

The construct match break screen in eliciting a new element provides radio buttons for each of the options that automatically set up the appropriate construct ratings when selected.

A "sort" facility has been added to the Main screen that allows the order of elements and constructs to be changed under user control.

Improved Analysis Features

The Display, Cluster, Map and Compare screens now offer the capability to turn on advanced analysis control by clicking on the "Show parameters" button.

They also offer the capability to copy the image showing the analysis into a separate window so that different analyses, and analyses at different stages of elicitation, may be collected for comparison.

Improved Multimedia Annotation

Element annotation is now automatically displayed during element rating, not just in the triadic and pair elicitation screens. To control the complexity of output, annotation is displayed only when a single element rated on multiple constructs, or a single construct with multiple elements, is being displayed. Editing multiple elements or constructs remains supported but does not display the annotation. The display of annotation can be turned off or on by a checkbox in the Status screen.

This enhanced annotation facilities are not only useful in giving clients access to the annotation, such as images, during elicitation. They are also useful in increasing the value of the clickable images resulting from the analysis of mental models for purposes of knowledge management. For example, clicking on an element in a map produced by principal components analysis can now take one to a page for that element containing HTML annotation accessing text, images and links to other documents. This can be the basis for a knowledge management system or corporate memory based on linking digital materials to mental models.

Improved Support for New Browsers

Changes have been made to improve WebGrid-III operation in new browsers that do not support all the features of Netscape Communicator 3 and 4, such as Internet Explorer 4 and 5, and Netscape Communicator 6.

Improved Expert System Capabilities

The expert system development capabilities have been enhanced to support the generation of, and inference from, backward-chaining rules.

Support for grids containing sorted and unsorted categorical and numerical data types was added as WebGrid-II evolved, and rule induction operates effectively with these data types.

The capability to enter a test case, check inference about it from the rules, change the outcome if incorrect and then post this test case back into the grid to produce improved rules has also proved to be a powerful elicitation technique.

Improved Data Caching and Cache Management

The capability to cache grids at our server for purposes of comparison was introduced in WebGrid II and has been widely used. As WebGrid-II evolved we introduced the capability to collect derived grids in the same cache, giving access to the researcher who cached the original grid. This has been used in a range of major research projects leading to publications and theses.

WebGrid-III greatly improves the support facilities for the researchers by allowing them to manage their caches directly. To do this we have introduced a cache registration facility whereby the researcher can request a cache and specify a name and password through which she or he may access it. The cache is allocated by the system immediately upon request, and researchers can establish several caches if they wish. When the cache is requested we request an email address so that it is possible for us to contact major users if necessary. Previously, in general, we had no way of doing this, informing such users about system changes, etc.

Researchers can now add grids to their caches as they wish and also delete them. They can download grid data directly from the cache, analyze grids in the cache, and compare any pair of grids. They can also load grids from the cache for exchange purposes and, when they do so, they can specify the initial sequence of triads for elicitation if they wish.

New Facilities for Role Repertory Grids

An important grid technique involves the initial elicitation of elements as concrete instances of abstract roles. For example, Kelly's (1955 p.270) use of self, mother,..., pal, ex-pal,..., threatening person, attractive person, etc. WebGrid-III provides the capability to manage such element elicitation through the use of an annotated pseudo-grid in which the initial elements are roles, the element annotation is prompts in HTML, and the pseudo-grid is used to manage the elicitation process.

The role names are placed in the annotation field of the resultant grid so that the researcher can track what concrete lements were elicited for what abstract roles. This also means that the roles can be shown during elicitation if appropriate. The resulting grids can be automatically cached, analyzed and managed using the facilities outlined in the previous section.

The capabilities of the new system extend beyond the basics required for a simple role repertory grid by allowing the pseudo-grid to include:-

Since the pseudo-grid has the structure of a normal grid, WebGrid itself can be used to enter and edit the pseudo-grid, and it can be cached in the normal way.

The new facilities provide a powerful tool for researchers to customize elicitation, and perform new forms of study.

Messages about WebGrid

You can contact us about WebGrid through the email address WebGrid@repgrid.com.

Brian R Gaines and Mildred L G Shaw, 19-Feb-2001.