Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Human Factors & Systems


Human Factors and Systems

Committee Chair

John A. Wise, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jim Blanchard, Sc.D.

Committee Member

Hal Christensen, M.A.


Based on previous research findings in the expert/novice area, this thesis suggests that how people approach and solve problems largely depend on their experience level. The literature supports that experts tend to prioritize their actions differently than their novice counterparts as they negotiate their way through various critical flight scenarios. In this study we assume this difference is, in part, related to the fact that experts have a more complete understanding/perception of the overall situation than do novices. Psychologists often refer to this understanding as a more complete mental model.

The purpose of this study was to evaluate if the proposed format of the ICIS will effect performance of novice pilot's as compared experienced pilots. In order to establish the potential difference in expert/novice problem-solving, a perception task was assigned to the participants. Specifically, the task was to rank pertinent flight information according to how the pilot perceives the items related to the scenario which she is presented via the display program. As is suggested throughout the literature aligned to this study, the results indicate that as a person gains experience ranking relevance differ. The perception test developed for this study was used to establish this assumed difference. Further indicated in the literature by Ericsson and Chamess (1994), differences in expertise provide the largest and most reliable differences in performance between individuals. Therefore, in order to test the claimed effectiveness of the new touch-screen display, the research focused on performance measures.

In this study both groups were asked to solve similar flight scenarios solely with the help of the ICIS display. The performance of the participants was based on their ability to find flight information on the screen, the amount of keystrokes they used, and the time they needed to solve the problem. It was assumed the ICIS's highly structured organization and would effectively guide the user through the problem-solving process, with a significant improvement in human-computer interaction graphical touch-screen display performance.

Cognitive load theory suggests that available information should support structures which eliminate any excess load on working memory in order to enhance learning. The literature further explains that as individuals store learned information in long-term memory, this process reduces the burden on working memory by allowing multiple elements of information to be treated as a single or unified response (Kalyuga, Chandler &Sweller, 1998).

Similar, in cognitive terms, to "chunking," this layering is thought to provide benefit to the novices and experts alike in navigating computer interfaces. As a basis for design effectiveness, this study tested hypotheses using the ICIS. Seeking to support the notion that several layers of information on one display provides equal reduction of working memory, regardless of the participants' level of flight experience. This study supports the assumption that layering provides benefit to the user of the ICIS, regardless of experience level.