Date of Award

Spring 2002

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Human Factors & Systems


Human Factors and Systems

Committee Chair

Christina Frederick, Ph.D.

Committee Member

John A. Wise, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Steven Hall, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Arlin J. Cooper, Ph.D.


The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of current available communication mediums on the process of collaborative problem solving tasks in today's modern society. Seven male-only dyads were asked to complete two tasks, both with a finite and definable solution, by communicating through one of three possible ways: face-to- face (FTF), a synchronous text-based computer system (CMC), and a video-mediated system (VMC). The effectiveness of the medium was evaluated based on time to solution, number of turns and words in relation to a visual search task and a spatial task. Results showed a significant difference in time to solution between dyads communicating through CMC and VMC and FTF mode for the visual search task. For the spatial task, significant time differences were found between all modes of communication, with the computer-mediated group taking the longest time to complete the task. No difference was found between FTF mode and VMC mode in regards to number of words and turns for the visual task, and for the special task no significant difference was found between FTF mode and CMC mode.