An Investigation of Factors Affecting Multi-task Performance in an Immersive Environment

Report No. ARL-TR-4325
Authors: Teresa A. Branscome and Jock O. Grynovicki
Date/Pages: December 2007; 65 pages
Abstract: This report presents the results of a study included in a series of investigations designed to increase fundamental knowledge and understanding of the factors affecting multi-task performance in a military environment. In this study, each of 26 civilian and military participants completed a battery of questionnaires designed to gather information about individual differences. Included were a demographics questionnaire; the Zuckerman-Kuhlman Personality Questionnaire Form III; the polychronicity scale; the Dundee Stress State Questionnaire; and the Situational Self-Efficacy scale. The performance component took place in Tactical Environment Simulation Facility (TESF), a controlled laboratory-based research facility. Multi-task performance was evaluated with the use of the Synthetic Work Environment (SYNWORK), a computer-based environment that runs on a personal computer or a laptop (Elsmore, 1994). In addition, a visual target identification scenario was presented in the TESF on a 10- by 12.5-foot rear-projected flat wall display via the DI-Guy1 Scenario. All test participants performed the performance task in each of three conditions: one in which particpants performed only the SYNWORK tasks, another in which the SYNWORK memory task was eliminated and the participants were required to simultaneously identify targets on the large screen, and another that required target detection and all SYNWORK tasks. Multivariate analyses conducted on overall task performance measures revealed significant differences between workload levels and experience, and cluster analyses showed significant differences in performance between high and low groups base on mental and physical workload ratings. 1DI-Guy is a trademark of Boston Dynamics.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: December 1, 2007