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

By Kim J. Vicente | Go to book overview
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without having any measures at the level of worker competencies. Such claims are indefensible. Second, the taxonomy allowed us to associate a given set of measures with each specific experimental question of interest (e.g., knowledge elicitation tests with the question of what impact interface design had on worker competencies). These linkages made the data analysis effort much more manageable because the numerous dependent variables could be segregated into meaningful groups.

These examples show that CWA also has important benefits for the classification of dependent variables in microworld research. More specifically, CWA can help experimenters generate a comprehensive and coherent measurement plan that can, in turn, lead to deep insights and defensible inferences.


Summary

In this section, we have shown that the value of CWA extends beyond systems design. The distinctions and concepts in the framework can also be used productively in cognitive engineering research. We provided several examples of how CWA can help us deal with the difficulties associated with experimental design, analysis of data, and classification of dependent variables in microworld research. These examples just scratch the surface of the potential relevance of CWA to research, however. Many other applications are foreseeable (e.g., Yu et al., 1997).


THE BOTTOM LINE

There is no intrinsic practical value in conducting a work analysis because it is a means, not an end. Thus, it is important to demonstrate that a framework for work analysis can be used to generate valuable, and preferably unique, implications. In this chapter, we have illustrated the value that CWA can add to both systems design and research. In the first part of the chapter, we showed that CWA can be used to design effective and innovative interfaces for both humanistic and technical application domains. The BookHouse information system and the P+F interface for DURESS II illustrate that CWA has a wide range of applicability in systems design, much broader than the DURESS II case study that we have been using would suggest. In the second part of the chapter, we showed that CWA can also be used to address challenging issues in microworld research. These examples should convince you that CWA has an important and unique contribution to make to both systems design and research. Perhaps even more important, we hope that these examples give you ideas for new ways in which CWA can be applied in your own design and research activities. Indeed, this is one of the primary purposes of this book--to make these concepts more readily available to a wider audience so that the framework can be applied in new ways.

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