Interactions on the Move:
Understanding Strategy Adaptation in Dynamic Multitask Environments
Justin Grace (RA)
Collaborators: Dario Salvucci (Drexel Univerisity) and Andrew Howes (University of Manchester)
- welcome to Justin Grace
Justin Grace joins us from the University of Edinburgh, where he studied Human Cognitive Neuropsychology (MSc) and Psychology and Linguistics (MA). Justin has interests in how executive functioning and working memory systems control multitasking behavior.
- we're hiring
We are looking to hire a Research Assistant who will be responsible for the running of experiments aimed at investigating how people perform multiple ongoing tasks while driving.
Candidates should have a degree in Psychology (or equivalent subject) and have experience of running controlled experiments with human subjects.
Effective working knowledge of statistical data analysis tools is essential (preferably R). Working knowledge of JAVA is desirable.
This post is flexible in terms of working hours. It can be either a full-time position for one year starting November 2009, or a half-time position for two years.
Closing date for applications is October 1st 2009.
This is an exciting opportunity to join a vibrant HCI group at London's leading research university.
- poster presented at ICCM
Janssen presented the results of a study conducted in our lab at
the 9th International Conference on Cognitive Modeling (ICCM
2009) in Manchester, and at the annual meeting of the Cognitive
Science Society (CogSci
2009) in Amsterdam. The study was conducted as part of Chris' PhD
work on dual-task strategy adaptation. The study found that people actively
reconfigure the way in which they perform a simple dialing task to meet
dual-task demands. [project publications]
- paper presented at CHI'09
Duncan Brumby presented a full paper at the ACM SIGCHI conference
(CHI'09) in Boston. The paper
investigates how people adapt their multitasking strategy to varying
task objectives. The
question of how objectives shape multitasking strategies is an important
one for Human-Computer Interaction research given the field's promotion
of mobile technologies. A better understanding will greatly facilitate
the design, prototyping, and evaluation of such technologies in the
context of how people actually use them in dynamic multitask contexts.
With computers having been untethered from the relative
safety of the desktop there comes a growing need to understand the
implications of interface design for how people interact with information
communication technologies on the move. Nowhere is this need greater
than in situations where people interact with technology systems in
safety critical environments, such as when driving a car. In many
such multitasking situations, people can often only actively attend
to a single task at a time because of competition for limited attentional
resources between tasks. At the same time many of our interactions
with technology systems tend to be shaped by prior knowledge of how
to perform routine procedural tasks on that device. It is therefore
not clear to what extent decisions about how to interleave attention
between tasks is constrained by this prior experience of using a device.
If people do not adjust their interaction style to the demands of
the task environment this could be potentially dangerous.
There are a number of accounts for how people might choose
to interleave resources between tasks. One possibility is that task
interleaving is constrained to natural break points in the execution
of a task. For example, consider a driver dialling a telephone number.
In this situation, the driver might choose to enter only the area-code
part of the telephone number (or indeed select the ‘Address Book’
option from an interactive menu), and then return attention to monitoring
the road ahead before completing another small step of the secondary
task. In this way, natural break points in the representational structure
of the task act as a cue to switch from one task to another. Alternatively,
drivers might simply set a limit (or threshold) on the amount of time
they are prepared to look away from the road and complete as much
of the secondary task as possible within this window of opportunity.
A further possibility is that task interleaving strategies are selected
that optimally trade the time required to complete the secondary task
against any additional time taken to switch to the primary driving
task in order to maintain a stable lane position while dialling.
This research proposal sets out a series of planned experiments
that will be conducted to investigate how people allocate resources
between multiple ongoing tasks while driving. Experiments will be
conducted in a desktop driving simulator using specially instrumented
devices for secondary task interactions. The experiments will be informed
by various computational accounts of how people might choose to schedule
resources between tasks, and will investigate the consequences of
manipulating the representational structure of secondary in-car tasks
and features of the functional task environment on performance and
strategy adaptation. In tandem with the running of these experiments,
modelling will be conducted that will implement these various computational
accounts of human multitask scheduling, deriving key quantitative
performance predictions for each. This modelling work will be aimed
at determining which account provides the best characterisation of
human behaviour, and in doing so, will set the foundation for future
work directed towards developing design tools for rapidly predicting
the efficiency of design alternatives for supporting the multitasking
user on the move.
This programme of research will lead to greater understanding
of human behaviour in complex multitasking environments and the knowledge
gained will be of potential value to the designers of mobile interactive
systems. The empirical data will give insights into how interfaces
for in-car devices might be redesigned to support users’ needs in
a safe and efficient manner. These conclusions will be of value for
understanding behaviour in a variety of contexts where people must
allocate attention between multiple concurrent task while monitoring
safety critical systems.
Brumby D.P., Salvucci, D.D., & Howes, A. (2009).
Focus on driving: How cognitive constraints shape the adaptation of
strategy when dialing while driving. In the Proceedings of the
SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI
2009), Boston, MA, April 4–9, 2009 (pg. 1629-1638). New York,
NY: ACM Press. [DOI]
Janssen, C.P., & Brumby D.P. (2009). Dual-task
strategy adaptation: Do we only interleave at chunk boundaries? Poster
to be presented at 9th International Conference on Cognitive Modeling.
Janssen, C.P., & Brumby D.P. (2009). Dual-task
strategy adaptation: How task structure is actively reconfigured for
improved performance. Poster to be presented at The 31st Annual
Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Amsterdam, The Netherlands.