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Title: A methodology for characterising how engineers visually interact with information using eye tracking
Author: Boa, Duncan Ritchie
ISNI:       0000 0004 6058 0246
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2015
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Engineering design is commonly viewed as an information processing activity with information management tools and techniques developed to aide engineers. However, poor understanding of how engineers fundamentally process information frustrates attempts to support them in this critical activity. The information processing behaviour of engineers has primarily been investigated using "think-aloud" studies. The generalizability of these results can be problematic as sample sizes are often small and interpretations are post-rationalised. Short-term memory limitations introduce an additional issue as an increased cognitive load from concurrent verbalising during a task affects behaviour. Eye tracking is a passive technique that exploits the link between gaze and attention to allow inferences about cognitive processes to be made. The gaze data generated are considered as cognitive inputs and outputs for an individual and correspondingly represent their information interaction. In this thesis a novel model of information interaction is proposed based on eye movements. A set of fundamental operations used to manipulate the information space during a design problem are described and characterised. The Information Operations model is based on multi-disciplinary understanding, including design theory, HCI, and cognitive psychology. It has been demonstrated that Information Operations are distinguishable through eye movements. However, eye movements are inherently variable and estimated information processing effect sizes are small (= 1-20%). The size of the observed Information Operation-gaze effect is non-uniform, indicating a complex interrelation that is non-linear. Information interaction is significantly different for symbolic and iconic design information, confirming a basic difference in the cognitive processing of each. The findings and corresponding model afford important knowledge that can be used to improve the training and support of engineers, interface design, and offer novel means for managing compliance. For example, further development and refinement of the model could be used to ensure a document has been reviewed rather than just browsed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available