Knowledge versus Execution
in Dynamic Judgment Tasks
Ann M. Bisantz, Alex Kirlik, Neff Walker, Arthur D. Fisk, Paul Gay, and Donita Phipps
Two-hundred ninety people were killed on July 3, 1988, when the USS Vincennes mistakenly shot down an Iran Air commercial jetliner over the Persian Gulf (Fogarty, 1988). As a result of this tragedy, the U.S. Office of Naval Research established a research program called Tactical Decision Making Under Stress, or TADMUS (Collyer & Malecki, 1998). A central goal of the 7-year TADMUS program was to better understand human strengths and limitations in coping with time stress, technological complexity, and situational ambiguity while performing judgment and decision-making tasks. The TADMUS program spawned a wide range of empirical and theoretical research, characterized by close involvement among researchers at universities, government laboratories, and the naval operational community. These investigators were united by a shared vision that an improved understanding of human performance in dynamic, uncertain, technological environments could better support the design of future military training, aiding, and display systems and thus hopefully reduce the likelihood of future incidents like the Vincennes tragedy.
The research presented in this chapter was one of the many efforts initiated and supported under the TADMUS program (for a comprehensive account of TADMUS research products see CannonBowers & Salas, 1998). As described in a chapter written with our colleagues in that volume (Kirlik et al., 1998), one of the initial steps in our own research was to visit a naval precommissioning team training site, consisting of a full-scale hardware and software simulation of a ship-based Combat Information Center (CIC). At this site, entire CIC teams received tactical decision-making and crew coordination training just prior to taking to sea and conducting active operations. We focused our observations and subsequent research on the task of the Anti-Air Warfare Coordinator (AAWC), who was responsible for using a computer workstation containing a radar display and a wide variety of other information sources to make identification judgments of initially unknown objects, called tracks, in the environment of his or her ship.
During these visits we were impressed by the significant amount of time and resources devoted to realism in both simulator and scenario design. At the same time, however, we were distressed by the comparatively little time and few resources devoted to providing individuals and teams with diagnostic and timely feedback on the positive and negative aspects of their judgment performance.