Information Sharing Strategies To Improve Team Mental Models In Complex Systems
Sperling, Brian Keith
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This thesis hypothesizes that providing task specific information to individual team members will improve coordination and decision-making, and therefore team performance, at time critical tasks. Major themes addressed in this research include teams and team processes, mental models, team mental models, work domain analysis, and hierarchical task analysis. Furthermore, the theory behind the development of complementary models is introduced. A unique method to identify the information sources and requirements in a complex team environment is first discussed in general and then specifically applied in two domains. The findings are presented of two experiments examining the effects of imposing different information distribution strategies that range from no complementariness to full complementariness of information. Team communication, team and individual task performance, workload, and timeliness and effectiveness of team decision making were assessed in nominal and off-nominal conditions. The first experiment used an automobile simulator and examined team navigation while driving. A second experiment was designed to incorporate additional measures to more specifically investigate individual performance, team workload, and clarity of information requirements using a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter simulator. The procedures used for both experiments provided for dynamic yet controlled environments through which critical factors that influence team process and performance could be evaluated accurately. Results of these experiments provide empirical evidence that providing task relevant information to individual team members in a time critical environment, while limiting their access to non-relevant information, improves individual and team performance. Furthermore, there is evidence of increased individual performance that indicates this method of distributing information among team members may provide individual crewmembers with a more accurate task relevant mental model of their own environment. This research provides new insight into how the distribution of information among team members effects the development of mental models, information requirements, team and individual performance, and communications, and highlights several directions for future research. The information distribution design principles presented in this thesis address the heterogeneity of teams; teams cannot be thought of as groups of identical individuals. The results concerning the communication, workload, performance and team of mental models were consistent across the domains in this research.