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Interacting with Computers 11

Editors:Dan Diaper; Dianne Murray
Dates:1999
Volume:11
Publisher:Elsevier Science
Standard No:ISSN 0953-5438
Papers:35
Links:Table of Contents
  1. IWC 1998 Volume 11 Issue 1
  2. IWC 1998 Volume 11 Issue 2
  3. IWC 1999 Volume 11 Issue 3
  4. IWC 1999 Volume 11 Issue 4
  5. IWC 1999 Volume 11 Issue 5
  6. IWC 1999 Volume 11 Issue 6

IWC 1998 Volume 11 Issue 1

Introduction to the Special Issue on Temporal Aspects of Usability BIB 1-7
  Alan Dix; John Fabre; Steve Howard

Temporal Aspects of Usability

Interaction in the Large BIBAK 9-32
  Alan Dix; Devina Ramduny; Julie Wilkinson
Most work in HCI focuses on interaction in the small: where tasks take a few minutes or hours and individual actions receive feedback within seconds. In contrast, many collaborative activities occur over weeks or months and the turnaround of individual messages may take hours, days or even weeks. This slow pace of interaction brings its own problems, especially when expected responses do not occur. This paper analyses these problems, focusing on the triggers which initiate activities and the way processes recover when triggers are missed or misinterpreted. Furthermore, we are able to consider processes which cross organisational boundaries. We draw on theoretical analysis, an exploratory case study of conference organisation and recent application of the techniques to a student placement office. During the studies, a pattern of recurrent activities was discovered, the 4Rs (request, receipt, response and release), which we believe to be generic to this class of collaborative process.
Keywords: Pace, Interruptions, Reminders, Events, Long-term interaction, CSCW, Cooperative work, Workflow, To-be-done-to lists, Paper documents
Designing a Real-Time Telepathology Workstation to Mitigate Communication Delays BIBAK 33-52
  David Carr; Catherine Plaisant; Hiroaki Hasegawa
Dynamic telepathology uses a teleoperated microscope to allow pathologists to view samples at a remote location. However, time delays introduced by remote operation have made use of a commercial dynamic telepathology system difficult and frustrating. This paper describes the iterative redesign of the user interface. We redesigned the interface, conducted experiments to evaluate the improvements, and then redesigned the user interface based on the results.
   Our work shows that predictive displays and local maps improve user control of the microscope and increase user comfort with the system. It also indicates that some degree of automation is necessary to support the navigation process and increase the overall usefulness of the system. Therefore, we also make recommendations for further automation to support the telepathology process and increase the usefulness of the system.
   While performed on a specific device using a dedicated communications system, the same problems would be encountered in other environments. For example, Internet-based systems that enable remote control or require browsing of large images will need to compensate for time delays and can benefit from our experience with the telepathology application.
Keywords: Iterative design, Predictive displays, Remote control, Supervisory control, Telepathology, Time delays
Representing the Impact of Time on Human Error and Systems Failure BIBAK 53-86
  Chris Johnson
Time plays a central role in our understanding of human 'error' and system 'failure'. Without a detailed knowledge of the flow of events, investigators cannot hope to arrive at well founded conclusions about the causes of major accidents. This paper argues that formal and semi-formal notations can be used to build time-lines that show the ordering of events leading to a failure. These time-lines help to improve the quality of an accident report by identifying the temporal inconsistencies that often arise between human factors and system engineering accounts of the same accident. This, in turn, can help to ensure that any recommendations for the future design of interactive systems are based upon coherent accounts of previous failures.
Keywords: Safety-critical interfaces, Notations
Temporal Aspects of Interaction in Shared Virtual Worlds BIBAK 87-105
  David England; Philip Gray
In this paper we examine the problems of usability and related temporal issues in shared virtual environments. Shared virtual environments involve physically distributed users interacting with each other and with distributed objects via complex highly graphical user interfaces. These factors can result in interaction which suffers from serious and unpredictable delays in system response times. Careful interaction design can alleviate the problems resulting from such delays. We look at several areas of shared virtual world design, including object interaction, avatars and scene rendering, investigating ways of dealing with communicating information, preserving world coherence and providing users with effective real-time interaction. Our medium of analysis is the Extended User Action Notation (XUAN), a variant of the User Action Notation that enables us to express explicitly and clearly the temporal features of our examples. Finally, we discuss the implications of our temporal analysis for further research and development of shared virtual worlds, and the implications for the further development and use of XUAN.
Keywords: Temporal aspects, Usability, Shared virtual worlds, Virtual reality, Formal specification, Temporal specification, UAN, XUAN

IWC 1998 Volume 11 Issue 2

Integrating Natural Language Generation and Hypertext to Produce Dynamic Documents BIBAK 109-135
  Robert Dale; Jon Oberlander; Maria Milosavljevic; Alistair Knott
We discuss a task requiring the coherent presentation of heterogeneous information about objects recorded in electronic catalogues. We consider the advantages of combining hypermedia delivery with natural language generation technology, so as to allow us to view a session with such a system as a coherent conversation or dialogue. We describe two prototype systems we have built which make use of these combined techniques, and focus on those aspects of the systems which attempt to provide coherence. Although the techniques themselves are not novel, their combination is relatively recent, and promises to help forge useful tools for accomplishing our specific information retrieval task.
Keywords: Hypermedia, Natural language generation, Information presentation, Discourse coherence, Adaptive hypertext
The Attribute Explorer: Information Synthesis via Exploration BIBAK 137-146
  Robert Spence; Lisa Tweedie
The Attribute Explorer is a visualization tool in which the graphical and interactive presentation of data supports the human acquisition of insight into that data. The underlying concept employed is that of interactive linked histograms. The advantage of the Attribute Explorer derives from its ability to support both qualitative exploration and quantitative design decisions, as well as a smooth transition between these two activities.
Keywords: Attribute Explorer, Qualitative exploration, Quantitative decision making
The Effect of Interaction Style and Training Method on End User Learning of Software Packages BIBAK 147-172
  Sid Davis; Susan Wiedenbeck
This paper reports two studies of software learning by individuals who use packages as a tool but never become experts. Using assimilation theory, we studied the effect of three interaction styles (direct manipulation, menu, and command) and two training methods (instruction and exploration) on the initial learning of a package and the subsequent learning of functionally equivalent packages. Results suggest that direct manipulation aids initial learning and that previous experience is a moderate aid in learning a subsequent package, but only when the interaction styles are similar. Exploration training does not appear to aid learners in a short training period.
Keywords: Interface style, Exploration-based training, Instruction-based training, End users
The HOMER UIMS for Dual User Interface Development: Fusing Visual and Non-Visual Interactions BIBAK 173-209
  Anthony Savidis; Constantine Stephanidis
Existing systems which enable accessibility to graphical user interfaces (GUIs) by blind people follow an 'adaptation strategy'; each system adopts its own hard-coded policy for reproducing visual dialogues in a non-visual form, without knowledge about the application domain or the particular dialogue characteristics. It is argued that non-visual user interfaces should be more than automatically generated adaptations of visual dialogues. Tools are required to facilitate purposeful non-visual interface construction, allowing iterative design and implementation. Such tools should cater for the construction of 'integrated' user interfaces, which are concurrently accessible by sighted and blind users. Thus, the concept of dual user interfaces is introduced, arguably as the most appropriate basis to address this important issue of concurrent accessibility, in order to prevent segregation of blind people in computer-based working environments. A user interface management system (UIMS) has been developed, called HOMER, which facilitates the development of dual user interfaces. HOMER supports the integration of visual and non-visual toolkits of interaction elements; a non-visual toolkit, called COMONKIT, has been also implemented for building non-visual user interfaces, and has been incorporated in HOMER.
Keywords: Dual interface, Non-visual interaction, Abstract interaction objects, User interface specification, User interface management systems
The Design of Sonically-Enhanced Widgets BIBAK 211-235
  Stephen Brewster
This paper describes the design of user-interface widgets that include non-speech sound. Previous research has shown that the addition of sound can improve the usability of human-computer interfaces. However, there is little research to show where the best places are to add sound to improve usability. The approach described here is to integrate sound into widgets, the basic components of the human-computer interface. An overall structure for the integration of sound is presented. There are many problems with current graphical widgets and many of these are difficult to correct by using more graphics. This paper presents many of the standard graphical widgets and describes how sound can be added. It describes in detail usability problems with the widgets and then the non-speech sounds to overcome them. The non-speech sounds used are earcons. These sonically-enhanced widgets allow designers who are not sound experts to create interfaces that effectively improve usability and have coherent and consistent sounds.
Keywords: Earcons, Auditory interfaces, Widgets, Non-speech audio, Interface sonification, Interface toolkits

IWC 1999 Volume 11 Issue 3

Wanted: Psychologically Relevant, Device- and Event-Independent Work Analysis Techniques BIBAK 237-254
  Kim J. Vicente
This article offers a commentary on Richardson, Ormerod, and Shepherd (in press) while building on the previous discussion in this journal of the relative merits of task analysis and systems analysis in human-computer interface design [1,2,7]. The SGT scheme described by Richardson et al. represents a valuable contribution to the work analyst's toolkit. However, it is limited in the extent to which it can identify the information requirements associated with unanticipated events. The abstraction hierarchy [23] is an event-independent work domain analysis technique that can be used to overcome this limitation while still satisfying the criteria of device-independence and psychological relevance. Future research should integrate the complementary advantages of SGT and the abstraction hierarchy into a single, unified framework for work analysis.
Keywords: Task analysis; Systems analysis; Human-computer interaction; Cognitive engineering; Process control
A Comparison of the Comprehension of Object-Oriented and Procedural Programs by Novice Programmers BIBAK 255-282
  Susan Wiedenbeck; Vennila Ramalingam; Suseela Sarasamma; Cynthia L. Corritore
This paper reports on two experiments comparing mental representations and program comprehension by novices in the object-oriented and procedural styles. The subjects were novice programmers enrolled in a second course in programming which taught either the object-oriented or the procedural paradigm. The first experiment compared the mental representations and comprehension of short programs written in the procedural and object-oriented styles. The second experiment extended the study to a larger program incorporating more advanced language features. For the short programs there was no significant difference between the two groups with respect to the total number of questions answered correctly, but the object-oriented subjects were superior to the procedural subjects at answering questions about program function. This suggests that function information was more readily available in their mental representations of the programs and supports an argument that the object-oriented notation highlights function at the level of the individual class. For the long program a corresponding effect was not found. The comprehension of procedural subjects was superior to object-oriented subjects on all types of question. The difficulties experienced by the object-oriented subjects in answering questions in a larger program suggest that they faced problems in marshaling information and drawing inferences from it. We suggest that this result may be related to a longer learning curve for novices of the object-oriented style, as well as to features of the OO style and the particular OO language notation.
Keywords: Object-oriented programming; Empirical studies of programming; Novice programmers; Learning to program
A Performance Comparison of Two Handwriting Recognizers BIBAK 283-297
  I. Scott MacKenzie; Larry Chang
An experiment is described comparing two commercial handwriting recognizers with discrete hand-printed characters. Each recognizer was tested at two levels of constraint, one using lowercase letters (which were the only symbols included in the input text) and the other using both uppercase and lowercase letters. Two factors -- recognizer and constraint -- with two levels each, resulted in four test conditions. A total of 32 subjects performed text-entry tasks for each condition. Recognition accuracy differed significantly among conditions. Furthermore, the accuracy observed (87%-93%) was below the walk-up accuracy claimed by the developers of the recognizers. Entry speed was affected not only by recognition conditions but by users' adaptation to the idiosyncrasies of the recognizers. In an extensive error analysis, numerous weaknesses of the recognizers are revealed, in that certain characters are error prone and are misrecognized in a predictable way. This analysis, and the procedure for such, is a useful tool for designers of handwriting-recognition systems. User satisfaction results showed that recognition accuracy greatly affects the impression of walk-up users.
Keywords: Pen-based computing; Text entry; Hand-printing; Mobile computing; Character recognition; Handwriting recognition
The Ergonomic Criteria and the ISO/DIS 9241-10 Dialogue Principles: A Pilot Comparison in an Evaluation Task BIBAK 299-322
  J. M. C. Bastien; D. L. Scapin; C. Leulier
This study compared the relative effectiveness of the Ergonomic Criteria and the ISO/DIS 9241-10 Dialogue Principles in an evaluation task. Three groups of participants (Criteria, n=6; ISO, n=5; Control, n=6) conducted an ergonomic inspection of a musical database application. Participants in the Control group relied solely on their individual judgement to conduct their evaluation. No significant correlation was found between the time spent conducting the evaluation and the number of problems uncovered (Kendall' Tau=0.324; Z corrected for ties= 1.853; p=0.0638). The median time spent evaluating the application was 52.5 (Mean rank=3.5), 89 (Mean rank=10.6), and 124min (Mean rank=13.167), in the Control, ISO, and Criteria groups respectively (Kruskal-Wallis' H corrected for ties=11.762; p=0.0028). Multiple comparisons between groups revealed that only the Control and the Criteria groups differed significantly. The median number of usability problems uncovered by the participants in the Control, ISO and Criteria groups was 56.5 (Mean rank=6.25), 56 (Mean rank=7), and 85.5 (Mean rank=13.417) respectively (Kruskal-Wallis' H corrected for ties=7.18; p=0.0276). Again, multiple comparisons between groups revealed that only the Control and the Criteria groups differed significantly. The percentages of problems uncovered as a function of the number of evaluation reports cumulated showed similar trends for both the Control and the ISO groups. For the Criteria group, the percentage of problems uncovered with respect to the number of evaluation reports cumulated was higher. To summarise, participants using the Ergonomic Criteria spent significantly more time evaluating the application than the participants of the Control group. They also uncovered significantly more usability problems. However no significant differences appeared between the Control and the ISO groups as well as between the ISO and the Criteria groups.
Keywords: User interface evaluation; Inspection methods; Ergonomic criteria; Standards; Dialogue principles; Usability problems; Ergonomic quality
Managing the Use of Style Guides in an Organisational Setting: Practical Lessons in Ensuring UI Consistency BIBAK 323-351
  Nichole Simpson
This paper explores the use of Corporate Style Guides as a mechanism for managing consistency at the user interface. The software design community is becoming increasingly aware of the value of Style Guides in promoting consistency and usability in designs. Style Guides form a valuable reference point and management tool, and can offer particular advantage in cases where distributed or outsourced design and development groups exist. Style Guides also fill a gap in the development process, providing advice more specific than the guidance contained in published standards, and more general than the design specifications of a single system. They provide opportunities for the improvement of group design activities and overcoming the limitations of an individualistic approach. Style Guides can be shown to deliver tangible financial benefits to organisations through the promotion of consistency of design. However, it is recognised that the process of managing the use of Style Guides is not well defined. This paper draws on lessons learned from a range of projects concerned with providing Style Guides and Style Guide management processes in commercial and industrial settings.
Keywords: Corporate style guide; User-interface design; Cost-benefit analysis; Consistency of design; Conformancy checking

IWC 1999 Volume 11 Issue 4

Supporting the Group Creation of Formal and Informal Graphics During Business Process Modeling BIBAK 355-373
  Mark Pendergast; Kregg Aytes; James D. Lee
Since the 1960s, research in systems analysis and design has been performed along two distinct tracts: the automation of software design, implementation, and verification; and the elicitation of high level systems requirements. Computer-aided software engineering, rapid prototyping, and more recently, visual programming have been the tools developed for the automation of software development. Enterprise Analysis, in the form of process and information modeling, has been a primary area of focus for requirements development research. The application of Electronic Meeting Systems technology to Enterprise Analysis is a promising technology for the timely elicitation of requirements from groups of subject matter experts. However, Electronic Meeting Systems do not explicitly support the development of graphical models -- a requirement for many process modeling techniques. This paper describes a research effort to provide support for the creation of graphical business models by groups. Design decisions were made based on use of the tools by real-world groups, as well as a result of laboratory studies. One of the most interesting findings was that users found it particularly efficient to be able to enter model definitions through a textual interface and view computer generated graphical views of the model.
Keywords: Groupware; Collaborative drawing; IDEF; Computer-supported cooperative work; Enterprise analysis; Collaborative applications; Electronic meeting systems; Group support systems

Editorial: Virtual Reality and User's Issues

Virtual Reality: An Overview of User-Related Design Issues BIBAK 375-386
  Stella Mills; Jan Noyes
Within the last couple of decades, Virtual Reality (VR) has emerged from its early beginnings in simulators, and is now a realistic option in a number of applications, the range and number of which are increasing annually. It has also been heralded as the new future interface for allowing humans to communicate with computers. Hence, given the continuing developments and rapid advances in this area, it is timely to produce a Special Issue in Interacting With Computers focusing on the user issues relating to the successful employment of this technology.
Keywords: Virtual Reality; Virtual environments; Human-computer interaction; Usability; Applications

Virtual Reality and User's Issues

CLIMATE: A Framework for Developing Holistic Requirements Analysis in Virtual Environments BIBAK 387-402
  T. Conkar; J. M. Noyes; C. Kimble
Personal ([2] C Barnatt, Cyber Business Mindsets for a Wired Age, Wiley, New York, 1995) computers and networks have transformed communications in the workplace over the last decade. Tomorrow's society is likely to revolve around the use of Computer Mediated Communication (CMCs) to eschew the geographical distance between individuals ([27] N. Negroponte, Being Digital, Hodder and Stoughton, 1995; [28] D. Norfolk, The virtual enterprise, Information Age November Issue (1995) 32-39). A new dilemma for designers of this technology will be discovering ways of humanising systems development and design. This paper develops a framework called CLIMATE (Community, Language, Interaction, and Medium in the Analysis of Telepresence Environments) which may ultimately be used for capturing user and environment requirements. The virtual environment that forms as a result of this CMC is rich in social nuances, such as on-line friendships, communities and so on, that sometimes reflect the elaborate cultures of real life ([37] H. Rheingold, The Virtual Community, Minerva, 1995). CLIMATE is intended to help in capturing a more holistic picture of requirements, in terms of the users, task, and environment. The approach is inductivist, relying on gathering rich data from log transcripts, participant observation and questionnaire surveys. It is intended that CLIMATE will provide a step further towards integrating social and technical design requirements in the application of CMCs.
Keywords: Computer-mediated communications; Virtual environment; System design; Requirements analysis
Interacting with Virtual Environments: An Evaluation of a Model of Interaction BIBAK 403-426
  Kulwinder Kaur; Neil Maiden; Alistair Sutcliffe
There is a need for interface design guidance for virtual environments, in order to avoid common usability problems. To develop such guidance an understanding of user interaction is required. Theoretical models of interaction with virtual environments are proposed, which consist of stages of interaction for task/goal oriented, exploratory and reactive modes of behaviour. The models have been evaluated through user studies and results show the models to be reasonably complete in their predictions about modes and stages of interaction. Particular stages were found to be more predominant than others. The models were shown to be less accurate about the exact flow of interaction between stages. Whilst the general organisation of stages in the models remained the same, stages were often skipped and there was backtracking to previous stages. Results have been used to refine the theoretical models for use in informing interface design guidance for virtual environments.
Keywords: Virtual environments; Interaction modelling; Usability
Physicians in Virtual Environments Multimodal Human-Computer Interaction BIBAK 427-452
  Christian Krapichler; Michael Haubner; Andreas Losch; Dietrich Schuhmann; Marcus Seemann; Karl-Hans Englmeier
Modern tomography technologies like CT or MRI produce high-quality scans of the human anatomy. While conventional computer-aided image analysis falls back upon editing tomograms layer by layer, virtual environments offer enhanced visualization, image analysis and manipulation of the three-dimensional data sets. In this paper, the application of multimodal, user-oriented human-computer interaction is presented, facilitating and accelerating work with the tomographical data of individual patients. Hand gesture recognition is a major component of the interface, completed by speech understanding and further units like a 6-DOF mouse or acoustic feedback. Three-dimensional image segmentation, virtual bronchoscopy and virtual angioscopy are typical examples that illustrate the benefits of virtual environments for the realm of medicine.
Keywords: Virtual reality; Man-machine communication; Human-computer interaction; Multimodal interface; Medical imaging
Learning through Virtual Reality: A Preliminary Investigation BIBAK 453-462
  Stella Mills; Maria Madalena T. de Araujo
Our understanding of learning through the use of Virtual Reality (VR) is still in its infancy but a small core of work is emerging that is of growing importance. The literature is utilised to derive three design principles that are pertinent to VR systems used for learning. These principles form the basis for the design of a small VR world which was used for teaching a managment technique to students in Higher Education (HE). Thus, this project naturally divided into two stages: first, software was developed for Portuguese HE students to learn the basic concept of apportioning resources subject to constraints, while Stage 2 comprised a formative experiment to test for differences in the learning of the technique. The conclusion was that overall the traditionally taught group faired better, but not statistically significantly better, than the software based group. Issues of enjoyment and learning were also raised. More studies are needed before any generalities can be drawn.
Keywords: Virtual Reality; VR Systems Design; Learning through VR

IWC 1999 Volume 11 Issue 5

Usability and Educational Software Design BIB 463-466
  David Squires

Usability and Educational Software Design

Predicting Quality in Educational Software: Evaluating For Learning, Usability and the Synergy between Them BIBAK 467-483
  David Squires; Jenny Preece
Teachers need to be able to evaluate predictively educational software so that they can make decisions about what software to purchase and how to use software in classrooms. The conventional approach to predictive evaluation is to use a checklist. We argue that checklists are seriously flawed in principle because they do not encompass a consideration of learning issues. More particularly they fail to adopt a socio-constructivist view of learning. We propose an approach that adapts the idea of usability heuristics by taking account of a socio-constructivist learning perspective. This leads to a set of 'learning with software' heuristics. A notable feature of these heuristics is that they attend to the integration of usability and learning issues.
Keywords: Educational software evaluation; Usability; Constructivism; Checklists; Heuristics
Learning Technology and Usability: A Framework for Understanding Courseware BIBAK 485-497
  J. T. Mayes; C. J. Fowler
This paper argues that the usability of educational software cannot be measured in the same terms as other work contexts. This is because learning is a by-product of understanding rather than an activity which can be supported directly. Although it is best achieved through the performance of meaningful tasks, these tasks need to be designed to support different kinds of learning. We approach the problem through an attempt to derive a framework for understanding courseware. Conceptual learning is characterized as a cycle, involving the three stages which we term conceptualization, construction and dialogue. These are mapped onto primary, secondary and tertiary courseware. Each kind of courseware is discussed in terms of efficiency, effectiveness and usability.
Keywords: Educational software; Reusable courseware; Vicarious learning; Tertiary courseware
Contexts for Evaluating Educational Software BIBAK 499-516
  A. Jones; E. Scanlon; C. Tosunoglu; E. Morris; S. Ross; P. Butcher; J. Greenberg
The evaluation of educational software is of concern to two particular academic communities: HCI and educational technology. There is a danger that usability features are considered at the expense of educational issues (and the converse of this is of course equally true). This paper considers how the notion and practice of evaluation in the educational community differs from that in HCI and also identifies areas of overlap. It then describes how particular influences and contexts have led one group of evaluators from the educational community to develop a context, interactions, attitudes and outcomes (CIAO!) model of evaluation for computer assisted learning (CAL) evaluation in distance education. The application of this model is illustrated by case studies from a recent evaluation project and related research. The paper concludes with a discussion of the issues raised for both communities by this model for evaluation.
Keywords: Educational software evaluation; Contextual evaluation; CIAO! evaluation framework

Editorial: Human Error and Systems Development

Why Human Error Modeling has Failed to Help Systems Development BIBAK 517-524
  Chris Johnson
Until the 1980s, human reliability analysis focused upon individual erroneous actions. More recently, attention has shifted to the managerial and organizational contexts that create the latent conditions for such failures. Unfortunately, these developments have had little impact upon many industries. The problems of technology transfer are less due to commercial neglect than to the failure of human-factors' research to seriously consider the problems of systems development. For example, most error-modeling techniques are poorly documented. In consequence, errors are likely to be made when designers apply error modeling techniques. There are further ironies. Many of these techniques depend entirely upon the skill and intuition of human factors' experts. The lack of professional accreditation procedures prevents companies from assessing the quality both of those experts and their advice. Until these practical problems are addressed, increasingly esoteric models of human and organizational failure will be of little practical benefit. Over the last 5years, a number of researchers have become increasingly concerned to support technology transfer between human error modeling and constructive systems development [1]. As a result, workshops were staged in Glasgow (1997), Seattle (1998) and Liege (1999). This special edition presents a collection of papers from these meetings.
Keywords: Human error; System failure; Management weakness

Human Error and Systems Development

A Case Study of a Human Error in a Dynamic Environment BIBAK 525-543
  Marie-odile Bes
This joint project between C.E.N.A., L.A.M.I.H. and Percotec consisted in evaluating various implementations of a principle of distribution of workload, called dynamic allocation of tasks, between air traffic controllers and an expert-system. Our work focuses on the analysis of a human error intervening during these simulations. We present this case study in order to highlight the specific difficulties encountered by operators in managing the temporal aspects of a dynamic environment, such as they were unveiled in the work of De Keyser [6] and relate it to Reason's [13] contribution exposed in his Generic Error Modelling System. In conclusion we emphasise some parts of this model that should be refined and enriched in order to encompass the temporal characteristics of dynamic environments.
Keywords: : Human Error; Dynamic environment; Verbal protocol analysis; Human reliability; Human-machine system; Air Traffic Control
Automatic Reasoning and Help about Human Errors in Using an Operating System BIBAK 545-573
  Maria Virvou
Human errors occur frequently in the interaction of a user with an operating system. However, current user interfaces of operating systems lack some reasoning ability about user's intentions and beliefs. Intelligent Help Systems (IHS) can provide additional reasoning and help. This paper presents a discussion of the features of IHSs and a review of a few IHSs for users of operating systems. Then it describes the research and results of employing a cognitive theory of Human Plausible Reasoning Theory in error diagnosis for users interacting with an operating system. This theory has formalized the reasoning based on similarities, generalizations and specializations that people use to make plausible guesses about questions. Here we exploit the fact that plausible guesses can be incorrect and thus turned into human errors. The error diagnosis is performed by the user modelling component of an IHS, called RESCUER.
Keywords: User-modelling; Error diagnosis; Human Plausible Reasoning; User interfaces; Intelligent Help Systems
Toward a Model of Unreliability to Study Error Prevention Supports BIBAK 575-595
  F. Vanderhaegen
The paper reviews aspects of system development. It focuses on system specification which aims at defining off-line error prevention supports such as training programme, ergonomic improvement or rules modification and at defining on-line error prevention supports such as assistance tools, automated tools or human-machine interfaces. A model of unreliability is proposed to describe both human and machine dysfunctions and to guide the specification of error prevention supports. One of its uses is illustrated by an application in air traffic control. The project is an experimental feasibility study which aims at assessing the impact of automation on human behaviour. This study consists of sharing tasks dynamically between a human air traffic controller and a computer based tool. Results are analysed in the light of workload, safety and unreliability.
Keywords: Air traffic control; Error prevention support; Human reliability; Model of unreliability; Safety analysis; System specification

IWC 1999 Volume 11 Issue 6

Human Error and Systems Development

A Study of Incidents Involving Programmable Electronic Safety-Related systems BIBAK 597-609
  C. Chambers; P. R. Croll; M. Bowell
This paper presents a study of 21 incidents in small manufacturing enterprises involving electrical/electronic/programmable electronic (E/E/PE) safety-related systems, originally investigated by the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL). The aim of this study is to highlight the causes of these incidents and suggest common solutions to those causes. A fault schema suitable for the classification of incidents of this nature is proposed. For each incident, identified faults are labelled according to the fault schema and are also denoted as primary, secondary or incidental. Examples of particular causes are given. The prominent faults are further discussed with the goal of highlighting the categories of faults most prominent in E/E/PE safety-related systems. This pinpoints the areas where future work on incident prevention should focus. Finally, mitigation techniques which could form part of an E/E/PE safety-related system development methodology suitable for small manufacturing enterprises are suggested.
Keywords: Safety-related systems; Computer control systems; Fault schema; Small manufacturing enterprises; Accident analysis; Health and safety
A Classification and Analysis of Erroneous Actions in Computer Supported Co-Operative Work Environment BIBAK 611-622
  David Trepess; Tony Stockman
In the past, CSCW systems have been studied with little consideration of the social context in which they will be used (see Ref. [1]). A framework of social context has been proposed [1] that takes the social aspects of a collaborating community to be a vital consideration in the design of CSCW systems. This paper aims to extend Mantovani's framework to deal with the issues of human error. The social context plays a large part in the cause, detection, level of consequence and recovery of erroneous actions in CSCW. This paper considers how current classification of human errors might be adapted for application in CSCW. A framework has been proposed which can be used in the analysis of the social context of CSCW.
Keywords: Computer supported co-operative work; Framework; Human error; Human error classifications; Social context
Work Process Analysis: A Necessary Step in the Development of Decision Support Systems. An Aviation Safety Case Study BIBAK 623-643
  H. W. Allen; M. L. Abate
This paper demonstrates the importance of work process modeling and supporting data analysis in system development. To illustrate the process of modeling for system development, we describe how traditional task analysis was used in our effort to understand the work processes associated with the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA's) airworthiness and operations surveillance inspection activities. Further, the integration of risk assessment techniques resulted in a validated task analysis providing a review of the as-is state of surveillance activities. It is also shown how the as-is surveillance work processes that resulted from these studies were used as the foundation for a re-engineered (re-eng) surveillance work process model. We conclude by describing a follow-on activity, the development of a safety critical work process model, which reflects an integration of the as-is and re-engineered work process descriptions, the human factors literature, inspection data analysis, federal aviation regulations and identified areas of safety criticality.
Keywords: Work process analysis; Decision support systems; Aviation safety; Human computer interface design; Task analysis; System design
A Co-Operative Scenario Based Approach to Acquisition and Validation of System Requirements: How Exceptions Can Help! BIBAK 645-664
  Neil Maiden; Shailey Minocha; Alistair Sutcliffe; Darrel Manuel; Michele Ryan
Scenarios, in most situations, are descriptions of required interactions between a desired system and its environment, which detail normative system behaviour. Our studies of current scenario use in requirements engineering have revealed that there is considerable interest in the use of scenarios for acquisition, elaboration and validation of system requirements. However, scenarios have seldom been used to study inappropriate or exceptional system behaviour. To account for non-normative or undesired system behaviour, it is vital to predict ('what can go wrong') and explore the existence or occurrence of 'exceptions' in a scenario when the system might be prevented from delivering the required service. Identification of exceptions and inclusion of additional requirements to prevent their occurrence or mitigate their effects yield robust and fault-tolerant design solutions.
   In this article, we present a prototype software tool called CREWS-SAVRE for systematic scenario generation and use. We describe the innovative features of the tool and demonstrate them with an example of tool's use. Further, we have identified three kinds of exceptions: generic, permutation and problem exceptions, and have derived complex taxonomies of problem exceptions. We have populated SAVRE with the taxonomies of generic, permutation and problem exceptions. The exceptions can be chosen by the requirements engineer to include them in the generated scenarios to explore the correctness and completeness of requirements. In addition, the taxonomies of problem exceptions can also serve as checklists and help a requirements engineer to predict non-normative system behaviour in a scenario.
Keywords: Socio-technical system; Co-operative requirements engineering; Scenario-based requirements engineering; Scenario generation; Exceptions
Human Factors in Requirements Engineering: A Survey of Human Sciences Literature Relevant to the Improvement of Dependable Systems Development Processes BIBAK 665-698
  Stephen Viller; John Bowers; Tom Rodden
Requirements engineering (RE) is an inherently social process, involving the contribution of individuals working in an organizational context. Further, failures in the RE process will potentially lead to systematic failures in the products that are produced as a result. Consequently, the RE process for dependable systems development should itself be considered as a dependable process, and therefore subject to greater scrutiny for vulnerabilities to error. Research on human error has typically focused on the work of individual actors from a cognitive perspective. This paper presents a survey which broadens the view on what contributes to human error by also examining work from the social and organizational literature. This review was conducted to inform efforts to improve the systems development process for dependable systems, and in particular their requirements engineering process.
Keywords: Human error; Group performance; Process losses; Organizational failure; Process improvement; Dependable systems development
Human Error and Information Systems Failure: The Case of the London Ambulance Service Computer-Aided Despatch System Project BIBAK 699-720
  Paul Beynon-Davies
Human error and systems failure have been two constructs that have become linked in many contexts. In this paper we particularly focus on the issue of failure in relation to that group of software systems known as information systems. We first review the extant theoretical and empirical work on this topic. Then we discuss one particular well-known case -- that of the London ambulance service computer-aided despatch system (LASCAD) project -- and use it as a particularly cogent example of the features of information systems failure. We maintain that the tendency to analyse information systems failure solely from a technological standpoint is limiting, that the nature of information systems failure is multi-faceted, and hence cannot be adequately understood purely in terms of the immediate problems of systems construction. Our purpose is also to use the generic material on IS failure and the specific details of this particular case study to critique the issues of safety, criticality, human error and risk in relation to systems not currently well considered in relation to these areas.
Keywords: Human error; Information systems failure; Risk; Safety critical systems