Reconfigurable Prototype: Distributed Team Cognition

A major issue identified during the qualitative research was the lack of awareness of other knowledge within the cross-functional cyber teams. Although this was partially a result of the organizational structure, it was also a product of the distributed nature of the work being done. One way of mitigating a lack of interpersonal awareness in distributed work is through shared virtual feedback (Gutwin and Greenberg 2002, Hill and Gutwin 2003). The purpose of shared virtual feedback is to provide others working in the virtual workspace with an awareness of the actions and performance of other team members.

To understand how a mechanism like this can support cyber operators in practice, we implemented the augmented transactive memory interface (ATM-I). Using design guidelines for developing transactive memory aids (Keel 2007), the shared virtual feedback tracks expertise, knowledge, and task information, to highlight interconnected knowledge, and determine the expertise necessary for a given problem. This tool was developed so that it could be used as a supplementary tool, which complemented their cognitive processes rather than replacing them. The final design aimed to recreate TEP units, the building blocks of transactive memory (Brandon and Hollingshead 2004), but in a fashion that allowed quick access to awareness information of others.

In the ATM-I, players receive information that provided them with a real-time evaluation of their team member’s performance within each functional domain. Within the information transfer window, users could compare each team member’s performance against their own, and the average of the team. Figure 3.2 shows the additions to each interface component as a part of the manipulation.

Team tracker (A) and information transfer (B) with shared virtual feedback enabled

FIGURE 3.2 Team tracker (A) and information transfer (B) with shared virtual feedback enabled.

In the team tracker (A), the shared virtual feedback reports scores that are color coded for each functional domain. As each player files reports, these scores are continuously updated to provide a running average for the scenario. In the transfer report window (B), players are able to select one of their teammates, and get a breakdown of how they compare to their skills across functional areas. The bar chart visualization on the right has three sets of bars, representing each of the functional domains. Within each set, there is a bar that represents the current players skill within that domain (left), the skill of the selected player (middle), and the team average (right). This allows the current player to quickly extract information on each team member’s performance and expertise across the three functional domains.

This interface allows the players to distribute their cognition, in this case the awareness of the activities and knowledge of others, onto the shared workspace. The hope is that this allows them to offload the cognitive workload of teamwork (Sellers et al. 2014) onto the system, allowing quick access to the knowledge when needed.

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