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Experimental setup

Each participant interacted with one other person in one session comprising two dialogues. At the start of the session, each participant was given:

Figure 1: Map of Monroe county used in dialogue collection

Participants were told to pretend that they worked at an emergency control center and had to construct a plan for their task. They were given 10 minutes to work on their plan on their own. Then, one participant in each pair (participant B) was instructed to set aside his/her working materials and was given a new map and some blank paper. The other participant (participant A) was told that he/she would be giving control of his/her task to B, who was at another site and knew nothing about the task. The participants were told that they were to collaborate to complete the task, and that at the end B was to summarize the solution for A. Full instructions are given here.

After the participants had completed A's task, if there was time a new piece of information would be given to B and B would be asked to collaborate with A to incorporate this new information into the plan.

Then, A would be asked to set aside his/her working materials and both participants would collaborate to solve B's task. The instructions given at the beginning would be repeated or summarized before starting the second dialogue. After completion of the second dialogue, participants were given the opportunity to ask questions or make comments.

The data collection was held in the speech lab at the University of Rochester. Participants sat at two tables with a barrier between them so that they could not see each other. We set up the barrier for several reasons. We wanted to discourage use of body language because of the practical impossibility of recording it completely. We also wanted to encourage a variety of types of language use; that is, to discourage participants from just sharing maps and pointing.

Participant R in each pair was recorded with a Sennheiser HMD 414 microphone and participant B with a Sennheiser HMD 224 microphone. In general each participant could hear his/her own voice and that of the partner in the headphones. Sometimes, however, the connection was accidentally broken for a short period of time and where this occurred it generally shows up in the transcript as a comment from the participant. The audio data was recorded onto DAT tapes at 48 kHz. The participants' hands (their gestures and their use of the maps) were videotaped.

An experimenter was always in the room with the participants. The experimenter gave instructions, set recording levels, and ran the video recorders. The experimenter could also listen to the participants with headphones plugged into the DAT machine.

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