- Funk’s (1991) cockpit task management (CTM) theory is structurally consistent with cognitive multitasking models: it addresses managing multiple and concurrent tasks in three stages: situation awareness, response selection, and response execution. Based on CTM theory, Colvin, Funk and Braune (2005) hypothesized that the following six factors may affect task prioritization: 1. expectations, 2. importance, 3. salience, 4. status (performance status), 5. required Time/Effort, and 6. urgency.
Based on the above two research studies, the following three research questions were investigated: RQ-1) Can perceived task priority be explained by the following five factors? perceived task importance, urgency, performance status, salience, and workload RQ-2) Is there any relationship between the perceived task priority and the chance of noticing task-related cockpit instrument malfunction signals? If so, how much does the perceived task priority affect the chance of noticing task-related signals considering the following factors: salience of task-related signals, expectancy of task-related signals, and the number of concurrent tasks? and RQ-3) Can actual task execution and task performance be explained by the perceived task priority? A medium fidelity flight simulation study was conducted to test the above research questions.
For RQ-1, the perceived task importance, perceived task urgency, and the perceived salience of the tasks were significantly related to the perceived task priority. For RQ-2 and RQ-3, the pilots were more likely to execute the tasks and notice malfunction signals within a shorter time when the task was highly prioritized. Findings from this study are consistent with other multitasking studies: concurrent multitasking eliminates the benefits that result from alternating and integrating stimulus-driven bottom-up and goal-driven top-down processing, which is regarded as critical in task prioritization.