American Society of Civil Engineers


Using Applied Cognitive Work Analysis for a Superintendent to Examine Technology-Supported Learning Objectives in Field Supervision Education


by Fernando A. Mondragon Solis, S.M.ASCE, (The University of Texas at Austin, Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, 1 University Station C1752, Austin, TX 78712-0273. E-mail: fernando.mondragon@mail.utexas.edu) and William J. O’Brien, Ph.D., M.ASCE, (The University of Texas at Austin, Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering, 1 University Station C1752, Austin, TX 78712-0273. E-mail: wjob@mail.utexas.edu)
Section: Cutting-Edge Development, pp. 858-866, (doi:  http://dx.doi.org/10.1061/41182(416)106)

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Document type: Conference Proceeding Paper
Part of: Computing in Civil Engineering (2011)
Abstract: Superintendents in construction jobsites face the complex task of coordinating a great number of resources to manage field activities. Their job demands that they process large amounts of information in order to perform successfully. As a result, dozens of decisions are made by superintendents in a given day at work, which imply heavy information processing activities. Articulating the basis for such activities to transmit expertise can prove to be a quite extensive and difficult task, and novice superintendents must again make sense of the world around them. Given the complexity of the job, and the difficulty to develop an initial understanding, Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA) methods appear as a useful tool to support performance and instruction. CTAs are methods that can be used to describe a job, from the practitioner’s perspective, as a set of decision tasks in terms of the necessary information processes. One method of CTA, Applied Cognitive Work Analysis (ACWA), is useful to uncover the goals that must be accomplished for a superintendent to manage field activities in a construction project, the required decisions to achieve those goals, as well as the information needed to make each decision. This information can serve to identify functionality in computer systems to aid cognitive performance. In addition, sets of the superintendent’s goals show a demand for certain knowledge and thinking skills that are desirable for future field supervisors to learn, thus positioning those goals as learning objectives. This study utilizes the results of an ACWA study to explore their use for developing technology-supported nstruction in field supervision education.


ASCE Subject Headings:
Engineering education
Technology