Yu-Fen Chen
Department of Information Management, Southern Taiwan University of Technology
Wei-Su Hsu
Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling, National Taiwan Normal University
Wei-Chung Chang
Department of Information Management, National Chi Nan University
Chi-Yin Hsu
Department of Information Management, National Chi Nan University

This research combined the expertise of counseling and information technology to explore the design principles of a real-time webcounseling system and the effects of computer-mediated emotion-laden communication. We applied the action research approach and ran through three action research cycles. The first intervention involved developing a real-time webcounseling system prototype and executing a feasibility experiment. The second cycle integrated the findings of the first one into the new version of the webcounseling system and engaged in the real situation by inviting real counselors and clients. The third cycle dealt with counselors’ typing speed and administrative issues in webcounseling context. The major data source came from interviews of users. Researchers’ observation during experiments was another source for system modification.
We found out five important design principles of the real-time webcounseling system, including: (1) the expression-assisting function was very important and should consist of different sub-functions to meet different persons’ preferences; (2) the reliability and response speed of webcounseling systems were very important, and some management processes should be provided to complement the limitation of technology; (3) message-entering clues were necessary to facilitate the receiving side to understand what the other side was doing; (4) verbal-assistant function was helpful for counselor to reduce the typing task; and (5) back-end management function could save the time for administrative work. This study also pointed out some important issues of real-time webcounseling.

Keywords: action research, real-time webcounseling, real-time webcounseling system

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