Jobsite information processing : cognitive analysis of construction field managers and applications

Date

2013-08

Authors

Mondragon Solis, Fernando Alberto

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Abstract

Field managers have a complex job that requires coordinating a large number of variables that affect construction work. This makes their job primarily abstract, which complicates the observation of their activities; in turn, their knowledge is usually organized in a way that does not adequately consider the relationships between these work variables. As such, practical approaches to aid field managers’ work have often neglected these relationships and have been insufficient to aid practitioners’ coordination tasks. For example, many information tools have been developed to support decisions in the field, but their tendency to separate work activities makes it complicated to integrate the tools into work. Similarly, education programs often focus on individual concepts and tasks, which do not match the practical organization of work activities in the field. This dissertation presents the development of comprehensive cognitive models of field managers to gain insight into the approaches of expert practitioners to address the relationships between the major variables of work. Using the Applied Cognitive Work Analysis (ACWA) technique, it is possible to model work in terms of goals, decisions and information requirements of the job. These components are utilized to explain how the variables of work relate to each other and how they contribute towards attaining the objectives and responsibilities of the job. In particular, the inclusion of activities and tools as part of this set of variables gives insight as to how goals are attained through such means. The cognitive model obtained is applied to, first, analyze the integration of information tools into field managers’ work and, second, analyze the utilization of cognitive models to develop instructional programs and tools. As such, this dissertation makes three main contributions. The first contribution is the development of thorough cognitive models of field managers’ work. The second contribution is the use of these models to consider cognitive and behavioral aspects of adoption of information tools in the field. And the third contribution is the use of these models to present field management learners with the opportunity to use the knowledge and approaches of field managers in a robust learning environment.

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