Initial Research on Multitask Training and Transfer: Research Issues for the Future Force
Final rept. Jan-Sep 2007
ARMY RESEARCH INST FOR THE BEHAVIORAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCES FORT KNOX KY
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New technologies currently under development will provide Soldiers with unprecedented amounts of information. However, these technologies will also require Soldiers to multitask MT under demanding circumstances. In two experiments, Soldiers were trained to complete isolated tasks, called single task ST training, or a combination of tasks, called multitask MT training. Working memory of the participants was measured in Experiment 2. The ability of both the single task and multitask trained participants to multitask trained and novel tasks was then measured. The goals of the experiments were to replicate basic laboratory findings related to the training of multitasking ability, examine the role that working memory plays in training and test performance, and demonstrate if possible positive transfer of training to a multitasking scenario that included a novel task. In Experiment 1, the multitasking performance of MT-trained Soldiers was compared to that of ST-trained Soldiers. The ability of all participants to multitask when learning a novel subtask also was measured. In Experiment 2, the findings from Experiment 1 were replicated with a different Soldier population, and scores from a measure of working memory WM were collected. Results indicate that although performance during training is superior for the ST trained participants, this pattern reverses when participants are required to MT both trained and novel tasks. Further, MT training performance is a better predictor of MT performance on both trained and novel tasks than ST training performance. Finally, working memory appears to be a relevant predictor only for individuals who have not received MT training. Future research issues should include an examination of task characteristics which may impact the transfer of multitasking skills. Implications for multitask training and personnel selection are discussed.
- Personnel Management and Labor Relations
- Military Forces and Organizations