Goal-centered approach to the measurement of human-systems performance

Date of Completion

January 2004


Psychology, Experimental




Measuring and evaluating the level of proficiency with which humans interact with technology to achieve goals, are essential to the design and development of human-computer interfaces, adaptive tutoring and assistance systems, and the selection of workers in the Industry. Many performance measures are available in the literature and are used by researchers and engineers to evaluate the success and effectiveness of alternative designs or workers. The available measures (e.g., reaction time, number of errors, distance from target etc.), however, quantify only some aspects of the performance involved in achieving goals (e.g., driving home safely) and therefore open the possibility, for example, for one design to be shown superior to a competitor by some (partial) measures of performance and worse by others. The failure in establishing an overall basis for decision by which less effective designs are identified and improved or discarded has been argued to be a fundamental impediment to the development of a science of human-systems interaction design (e.g., Prothero, 1994). In the Human Factors and Ergonomics literature, this absence of a general measure that can be shown to assess all aspects of human-systems performance that are relevant to the achievement of a goal has been termed the Measurement Problem (Helander, 1997; Sanders, 1991; Vreuls & Obermayer, 1985). In spite of the problem's persistence, only a few attempts at developing general measures of goal-relevant performance have been reported in the literature where the focus continues to be on the attempt to develop useful integration schemes for partial measures of performance suitable to the particular task of interest. ^ In this dissertation we test the feasibility of a proposed overall measure of human-systems' goal-directed performance. We detail how its properties are used in the assessment and evaluation of training and design, and present in detail the computational methods by which to carry out modeling, assessment, and prediction of goal-directed human-systems performance using that measure. ^