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The Development of a Model of Multitasking Behaviour

Benson, Jonathan Miles; (1991) The Development of a Model of Multitasking Behaviour. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The thesis begins with a consideration of what multitasking might mean, and derives a definition to be used in the rest of the thesis. The goals of the thesis are laid out - to develop a model, in the context of Cognitive Ergonomics, which has the properties of generality and utility. A consideration of this context along with the nature of models leads to the proposal of a heuristic strategy for developing a model with the desired properties. A prototype model is proposed based on a consideration of literature drawn from Psychology, Computing, AI and Operations Research. The developmental strategy is then implemented through three successive iterations. Each iteration is observation of the multitasking behaviour associated with a real job, using concurrent verbal protocol techniques. The choice of jobs can be understood in terms of the development strategy. All the jobs observed possess certain key attributes, but crucially differ in their other attributes. The jobs observed are cooking, computer operations and railway signal control. The final model represents multitasking as the allocation of resources to tasks over time. In this model, the person has two roles - as a controller and also as an effector. In the latter case, the person is modelled as a pair of resources. The plausibility of the recruitment of the knowledge in the model for the purposes of design is then evaluated experimentally, providing a partial measure of the success of the developmental strategy. The thesis ends with a summary and assessment of the model and of the strategy, together with a review of some additional areas of literature relevant to its final state.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The Development of a Model of Multitasking Behaviour
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest
Keywords: Psychology; Cognitive ergonomics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10107723
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