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Title: Human skill maintenance in complex work environments : applications to extended spaceflight
Author: Sauer, Juergen
ISNI:       0000 0001 3553 6356
Awarding Body: University of Hull
Current Institution: University of Hull
Date of Award: 1997
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This thesis examines human performance under sub-optimal working conditions during work with complex and highly-automated process control systems. The operational context focuses on applications in extended spaceflight but the generic approach allows for generalisations beyond this target work environment The methodological approach is based on the use of a computerised multiple-task environment to carry out generic simulations of real work environments (micro-worlds) with a high level of ecological validity. For that purpose, a PC-based task. environment was developed to simulate the operation of a life support system in a spacecraft. This task environment has been used in lab-based experiments with trained participants from the student population and with real space crews during large-scale mission simulations. A series of six experiments was carried out (3lab and 3 field studies) to investigate the impact of different configurations of sub-optimal working conditions and unfavourable operator states, using the following independent variables: sleep deprivation, dialogue control, social isolation and confinement, training, noise, extended lay-off period and different types of system faults (corresponding to variations in workload). The task environment comprised up to five tasks, allowing for the observation of differential effects of the independent variables on different levels of cognitive activity. Dependent variables included primary task performance, secondary task performance, system control behaviour, information sampling behaviour, and subjective state measures. The findings suggested that primary performance was rarely affected, whereas certain secondary task measures and, notably, information sampling strategies appeared to be good indicators of changes in demand under the unfavourable conditions. The isolation and confinement experiments revealed no serious breakdown of performance among the crew but some indications of strain were observed. The use of two different training approaches displayed a very complex picture, with no method showing clear superiority over the other concerning performance, though there were differences in knowledge structure and system management behaviour. An important implication of the experimental work is that a broad methodological approach is needed in order to investigate the complex adjustment patterns displayed by individuals during the management of task demands under unfavourable conditions.
Supervisor: Hockey, Robert Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Psychology ; Human engineering ; Stress (Physiology) ; Aviation medicine