The University of Kentucky Center for Visualization & Virtual Environments

Using Time Estimation Performance as a Secondary Task Measure of Workload

Measuring workload that is imposed by a task can be done in a variety of ways (primary task performance, secondary task performance, physiologically, subjectively). In the case where the primary task performance is high and devoting more attention or mental resources to the task is not likely to increase performance, using secondary task performance measures to evaluate the leftover resources may be more advantages. As is the case with surgery, often the amount of mental resources that remain available cope with emergencies situations may be just as important as the workload that is incurred by the surgeon to perform the primary surgical task.

Time estimation has been shown to be a good secondary task for measuring workload because it is not intrusive and has some ecological validity in surgical settings. However gathering time estimation data can be challenging for researchers due to the number of data points that are gathered. Also if time estimations are gathered with a stopwatch, paper and pencil, feedback regarding accuracy is difficult to give to participants. A computer application, hand-free foot pedal application, and portable iPhone application are being created to help in the gather of such data.

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