Cognitive Demands for Sustainment of Large Weapons Systems
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AbstractWe will apply powerful techniques of Cognitive Task Analysis to idenfity and represent the strategies and mental models of skilled maintenance technicians. Routine maintenance can be decomposed into steps and procedures, using methods of linear analysis. In contrast, sustainment attempts to minimize disassembly, using judgments and diagnoses and problem solving--it is a creative activity that cannot be captured by formal procedures or linear analyses. These are exactly the skills that Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA) methods have been designed to handle. The output of CTA is the specification of decision requirements: the critical decisions, the reasons why they are difficult, the types of errors that are made, and the patterns and strategies used by the most skillful technicians. We will apply CTA methods during in-depth interviews with ten skilled maintenance technicians. The resulting decision requirements tables will be used to specify the system software architecture for effectively supporting sustainment in the field.
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