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Title:Human Problem Solving in Process Control
Author(s):Morris, Nancy Marie
Department / Program:Psychology
Discipline:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Psychology, Experimental
Abstract:A review of literature from the domain of process control is provided, in which the complexity of the process control task is illustrated. It is argued that the role of the human operator is evolving to be primarily that of a problem solver. Following a brief review of literature related to problem solving from the areas of psychology and process control, it is noted that the general opinion reflected in these sources is that one's ability to solve a problem is related to the problem-relevant knowledge one has.
The question of what the operator of a dynamic system needs to know was investigated in an experiment using PLANT, a generic simulation of a dynamic production process. Knowledge of PLANT was manipulated via different types of instructions, so that four different groups were created: (1) Minimal instructions only; (2) Minimal instructions + dynamic relationships (Principles); (3) Minimal instructions + guidelines for operation (Procedures); (4) Minimal instructions + Principles + Procedures + Relationships between Principles and Procedures. Subjects then controlled PLANT in a variety of situations which required maintaining production while also diagnosing familiar and unfamiliar failures. Despite the fact that these manipulations resulted in differences in subjects' knowledge as assessed via a written test at the end of the experiment, instructions had no effect upon achievement of the primary goal of production. However, those groups receiving Procedures controlled the system in a more stable manner. Principles had no apparent effect upon subjects' performance. There was no difference between groups in diagnosis of unfamiliar events.
Based on results of this and other research, the following recommendations are made: (1) Providing operators with operational heuristics and procedures can be an effective means of giving them an appropriate control strategy, and effort should be devoted to development of good procedures. (2) Knowledge of theoretical aspects of system functioning appears to have no impact upon control performance, and inclusion of theory in training programs should be judicious. (3) Training programs and operator evaluation should include both verbal content and experience with the actual or simulated process. (4) Attention should be devoted to providing operators assistance in using the knowledge they have.
Issue Date:1983
Type:Text
Description:241 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1983.
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/69638
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8410003
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1983


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