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Models of Human Actions in Work Contexts

Objective

For the successful design and application of an information system in a modern, complex and rapidly changing work environment, system designers need to know the scope of work requirements and all possible means which agents may choose to satisfy them. Classical methods of field studies and behaviouristic studies are not, in practice, feasible ways of obtaining such knowledge.
The overall objective of the MOHAWC Action was to formulate and extend a common framework for cognitive studies of human agents coping with complex environments. Work was focused on the following areas:
-methods for the analysis and representation of knowledge about complex work domains (derived primarily from field studies and micro-world studies)
-analysis of cognitive control, mental models and heuristics applied in complex work domains
-distributed decision-making and forms of cooperative work
-the role of tacit knowledge in agents' performance in complex work domains
-computer simulation methods for testing models of cognitive performance.
A taxonomic framework has been developed for modelling human behaviour in complex work domains which can support the design of advanced information systems. The framework serves as a basis for the comparison, analysis and transfer of results and models derived from field studies of agents working in real life contexts and studies involving agents coping with computerized microworlds.

The 5 planned deliverables of the models of human actions in work context (MOHAWC) project are:
taxonomy for analysis of work domains (taxonomies for cognitive work analysis and for microworlds, that is, computer simulations of complex dynamic systems that are used as laboratory devices for investigating complex human behaviour);
cognitive processes and resources (cognitive simulations of operator behaviour based on both results from field studies and laboratory studies with microworlds;
distributed decision making (this focuses on the issue of distributed decision making in modern work and reports on results of both field studies and microworlds for the study of coordination among agents in dynamic contexts);
evaluations, simulations and models (this reports results from microworld experiments, simulations of cognitive behaviour with a focus on the representation of temporal aspects of dynamic systems);
MOHAWC separate papers (this contains a number of papers completed after the last workshop, including papers on the use of the MOHAWC taxonomy for interface design, further studies on distributed decision making, and papers that summarize results of field studies and simulations).

Together, these deliverables contribute to the understanding of cognitive aspects of modern work in high tech industry, providing new concepts in the taxonomies that have been developed.
APPROACH AND METHODS
The Action has drawn on a wide background of research carried out, mainly within national programmes, by each of the partner teams. The MOHAWC Action's work has been in the form of an integrating project, the efforts of which has been grouped into four research topics:
-taxonomy of work domains
-models of cognitive processes
-distributed decision making and cooperative work
-computer simulation based methods to test models of cognitive performance.
PROGRESS AND RESULTS
The five planned deliverables of the MOHAWC Action are now available. The first of these, 'Taxonomy for Analysis of Work Domains', is concerned with taxonomies for cognitive work analysis amd for 'microworlds', i.e. computer simulations of complex dynamic systems that are used as laboratory devices for investigating complex human behaviour. The second, 'Cognitive Processes and Resources', reports on the work in cognitive simulations of operator behaviour based on both results from field studies and labora tory studies with microworlds. The third, 'Distributed decision making', focuses on the issue of distributed decision making in modern work and reports on results of both field studies and microworlds for the study of coordination among agents in dynamic contexts. The fourth, 'Evaluations, Simulations and Models', reports results from microworld experiments, simulations of cognitive behaviour with a focus on the representation of temporal aspects of dynamic systems. The fifth deliverable, 'MOHAWC separate papers', contains a number of papers completed after the last workshop, including papers on the use of the MOHAWC taxonomy for interface design, further studies on distributed decision making, and papers that summarise results of field studies and simula tions.
Together, these deliverables contribute to the understanding of cognitive aspects of modern work in high-tech industry, providing new concepts in the taxonomies that have been developed and the accompanying general framework; new results from both field studies and the laboratory; new methods for laboratory work in the form of micro-worlds for a variety of purposes, including distributed decision making ans the testing of AI programs, and formal developments, especially for representing time and understanding time and complexity. The MOHAWC Action has thus provided a better foundation for the development of new information technology for modern work as well as methods that can be used for the evaluation of such technology. Especially important here are the results on adaptation and on the flexibility and variety of strategies that operators use.
POTENTIAL
The results from the various MOHAWC research paths show noticeable potential within the following areas:
-formulation of requirements for design of information systems in support of users' adaptation in dynamic, complex work environments
-formulation of a novel approach to "design guidance"; this approach is based on the view of designers as being creative and adaptive decision makers who are relatively unconstrained by normative design rules

Coordinator

RISOE NATIONAL LABORATORY
Address
, 49
4000 Roskilde
Denmark

Participants (6)

Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg
Germany
Address
Heumarkt 2
96047 Bamberg
ROSKILDE UNIVERSITET CENTER
Denmark
Address
, 260
4000 Roskilde
UNIVERSITE DE LIEGE
Belgium
Address
Place Du Aout, 7
4000 Liege
UNIVERSITY OF UPPSALA
Sweden
Address

75121 Uppsala
University of Manchester
United Kingdom
Address
Oxford Road
M13 9PL Manchester
Université de Paris XIII (Paris-Nord)
France
Address
Avenue Jean-baptiste-clément
93430 Villetaneuse