Cognitive Task Analysis to Understand Icebreaker Decision Making

M. Musharraf, K. Kulkarni, S. Mallam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Icebreakers are a critical shared resource between Finland and Sweden required to keep the Baltic Sea clear for differing waterborne activities throughout the winter season. The safety and efficiency (both ecological and in terms of time) of the winter transport system is highly dependent on the decision-making process followed by the icebreakers. The captains in charge of the icebreakers must decide the priority of assistance among all the merchant vessels that may be in need within a given time window. While captains successfully do this every year, with experience, this decision-making becomes second nature and a transparent picture of how the decisions are made is often missing. It is not always clear what salient features captains pay attention to, and how they use those features in their reasoning process to reach a decision during operations. This paper presents a pilot study that uses cognitive task analysis (CTA) to outline captains' decision-making process for ice breaker assistance allocation. In-depth interviews of three subject matter experts were conducted using a naturalistic icebreaker scenario. Results include identified critical decision points, identified, and prioritized salient features, and characterized icebreaker assistance strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)881-886
Number of pages6
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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