Bolstad et al assessed the effectiveness of computer-based training of attention sharing skills on situation awareness and flight skills. They did an experiment with general aviation (GA) pilots (around 2003?) and published it in an article in 20101.
They used GA pilots already holding a private pilot's licence and with experience averaging 200 flight hours((bibcite Footnote 1)). These pilots received computer training on performing four tasks concurrently:
- Visual search - "sky" scanning
- Gauge monitoring
- ATC comprehension
- Psychomotor tracking
The performance of the pilots on above task, as well as their performance on a flight simulator, were compared before and after receiving the training. A different group of pilots was used as control group2. Some 21 (independent) variables were measured, with training acting as the research (dependent) variable of interest. The main research hypothesis was that training would improve the specific skills being trained as well as overall situation awareness (measured with SAGAT3) and flight skills (measured in the flight simulator).
The research results are summarized in table 1. Training seems to improve (significantly) some of the particular skills being trained. It also appears to improve (significantly) some aspects of situation awareness.
However, these results need to be interpreted with care. On the one hand, only 3 out of 13 situation awareness variables were significant, which is not a great deal of improvement if situation awareness were, indeed, improving. On the other hand, the researchers opted for a one-tailed level of significance with a probability of 0.05, and carried some 21 t-tests. We could expect almost one of those tests to be significant by chance alone if a probability of 0.05 was used. Yet, the evidence suggests that the researchers were, indeed, using a probability of 0.10 (or two-tailed tests with a probability of 0.05 for each tail), in which case we would expect almost two of those tests to be significant by chance alone. (The table shows results which are coherent with one-tailed tests and a significance level of 0.05).
Given that situation awareness has not been trained directly, the improvement in such awareness may be simply incorrect, that is, a chance result. In this case, is safer to assume that the training of particular skills seems to partially improve those skills, but does not seem to have a clear effect neither on situation awareness nor on flight skills performance (in a simulator).
|Effect of training on particular skills|
|Visual search reaction time||yes|
|Gauge monitoring reaction time||yes|
|Psychomotor skills difficulty||no|
|Reduction of psychomotor errors||yes|
|Effect of training on flight skills and SA|
|Flight skills performance (overall)||no4|
|SAGAT: awareness of current heading||no|
|SAGAT: awareness of current altitude||no5|
|SAGAT: awareness of current vs planned altitude||no|
|SAGAT: awareness of current airspeed||no|
|SAGAT: awareness of current attitude||no|
|SAGAT: awareness of current winds||yes|
|SAGAT: awareness of current clearance||no|
|SAGAT: awareness of current fuel||no|
|SAGAT: awareness of special airspace||no|
|SAGAT: awareness of current obstacles||no|
|SAGAT: awareness of current altimeter setting||no|
|SAGAT: awareness of current ATC organization||no|
|SAGAT: awareness of current airspace (added item)||no|
Want to know more?
- BOLSTAD Cheryl A, Mica R ENDSLEY, Anthony M COSTELLO & Cass HOWELL (2010). Evaluation of computer-based situation awareness training for general aviation pilots. The International Journal of Aviation Psychology, 2010, number 20, volume 3, pages 269-294. ISSN 1050-8414.
- This is the original article, with above research described as experiment 2. (People with online access to the publisher can find the original article here.)
- AviationKnowledge - Situational awareness
- You can find information on situation awareness in this page.
- AviationKnowledge - Effectiveness of computer-based training on SA
- There are two other experiments releated to the one described here: the effectiveness of computer-based basic skills training on SA and the effectiveness of computer-based preflight planning training on SA
Jose D PEREZGONZALEZ (2011). School of Aviation, Massey University, New Zealand (JDPerezgonzalez).