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From Cognitive Task Analysis to Simulation: Developing a Synthetic Team Task for AWACS Weapons Directors

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To effectively study team variables as they impact performance in a particular domain, it is possible to develop medium fidelity simulations that abstract some details of the performance environment while maintaining others. This paper reports the results of a successful effort to create a synthetic task environment that captures key elements of a team task based on Cognitive Task Analysis of the important features of the task from a teamwork and cognition viewpoint. The authors studied the performance of AWACS Weapons Director WD teams and, based on the CTA data collected and insights from contemporary team theory, adapted an existing base simulation to mimic many of the crucial details of the task and its teamwork demands. The DDD simulator is a unique software tool set and computer system developed to study issues of distributed situation assessment and resource allocation in a dynamic team environment. As of this writing, the authors have run collected data using the DDD AWACS task and knowledgeable cadets from the U.S. Air Force Academy. They are in the process of demonstrating that it is possible to strike a balance between highly complex, large-scale, high fidelity simulations on the one hand, and over-controlled, overly simple laboratory research tasks on the other. Results of the research will inform team theory, system and organizational design, and continued research in the laboratory and field.

Subject Categories:

  • Administration and Management
  • Psychology
  • Computer Programming and Software
  • Military Forces and Organizations
  • Command, Control and Communications Systems

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