Cognitive Work Analysis: Toward Safe, Productive, and Healthy Computer-Based Work

By Kim J. Vicente | Go to book overview

12
Implications for Design and Research

If human factors participates in [systems] development, the discipline is obliged to ensure that, whatever other utility its research has, that research must be performed in such a way that its outputs are relevant and useful to development.

-- Meister ( 1989, pp. 57-58)

How much impact do science and research actually have on products? Less than you might think, less than you might hope.

-- Norman ( 1998, p. 2)


PURPOSE

The objective of this chapter is to give you a better feel for how the products of a CWA can be used in both systems design and research. As we mentioned before, this book is primarily about analysis, but work analysis is a means, not an end in itself. During the last five chapters, we have pointed out how CWA can be used to derive requirements for the design of sensors, databases, constraint-based procedures, automation, context-sensitive interface mechanism, human-computer dialogue modes, dialogue process flows, organizational structures, training programs, selection criteria, and interface forms. It is important to illustrate some of these connections to systems design in concrete detail so that the payoffs that arise from the effort that is invested in conducting a CWA become more tangible. The first part of the chapter deals with implications for design by showing how the concepts in CWA have been used to design innovative interfaces for library information retrieval and for the DURESS II microworld. The second part of the chapter shows that CWA has important implications for cognitive engineering research as well. We illustrate this additional source of value by explaining how the concepts in CWA can help solve difficulties that typically arise in microworld research.

To avoid misunderstandings, it is important to realize that this chapter is not intended to be exhaustive. Completely detailing the relevance of CWA to systems design and research would require much more space than we have here. Accordingly, the examples we present are intended to provide a flavor of the implications, not an exhaustive or definitive account. If we are successful, by the end of the chapter, you will see that CWA has a great deal to offer to both designers and researchers.


IMPLICATIONS FOR DESIGN

In this section, we provide two examples showing how CWA can be used in systems design. The first example comes from library information retrieval and shows how a CWA can lead to the design of an innovative and successful interface. The second

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