Our current research focus is on human decision-making, which is a huge and complex area of study.
One key component of the research has been to investigate the human-related impactors on the decision-making activities in a high-pressure, time-critical environment as well as developing mechanisms for visualising and analysing these impactors. Many of these research projects were intended to recommend changes which would improve the decision-making process within a team working in a situation where these decisions:
were based on a large amount of potentially complex and potentially uncertain information, usually from a variety of sources
had to be made within a confined timeframe, and;
where the results of these decisions could have critical consequences.
The identified changes could be in any part of the socio-technical system involved in the decision-making process: these changes could be to equipment, information presentation mechanisms, processes, procedures, manning levels, team structure, etc. or a combination of these. Most recently, our research has been focussed on the introduction of automation and the relationship between manning and automation; specifically considering when automation fails or the automation may not offer an optimum decision.
Our overall research approach has been to develop a set of tools and methods for evaluating the impact of socio-technological changes on the human in the system, specifically in relation to their decision-making process. This toolset forms a framework to allow the assessment of innovative solutions and support our analytical approach.
Our work is generally as part of a multi-disciplinary team, developing and assessing innovative solutions: our unique contribution is to provide this assessment framework, which goes from cognitive workload, through situational awareness (SA) to performance and mission effectiveness.
The tools and methods that form this framework are continually evolving, being updated and expanded to actively address the impactors on the decision-making process. The research involved in developing the toolset has taken some significant innovative steps in the understanding of cognitive workload, SA and their relationship to decision-making.
We believe it would be impracticable for any one project to thoroughly understand this huge and complex area or generate any comparable tools within the constraints of time and budget. Our approach allows information from one area to be leveraged into others without restricting the ability to be innovative both in our approach and in the solutions studied.
Our assessment framework and understanding gained from previous research projects do not provide the answer to any new or subsequent studies: they do however give us a head start and a validated structure to approach research in this area.