Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering

First Advisor

Patrick E. Patterson


This study is divided into five sections, each with an objective to: (1) examine the attention and memory limitations of engineering students; (2) examine the effects of automation, pace, and task duration on situation awareness and task performance of novice operators of a complex system; (3) examine the effects of attention limitations on situations awareness and task performance; (4) examine the effects of memory limitations on situation awareness and task performance; and (5) identify the effects of individual differences on the relationships among workload, situation awareness, and task performance, respectively.;Eighty undergraduate engineering students performed nine psychological tests to measure individual differences in terms of attention and memory limitations. Speed and/or accuracy were used to score each test. The participants also performed a simplified pilot task, in which response accuracy and latency were used to measure operator performance, and the NASA-TLX to measure workload. The Situation Awareness Global Assessment Technique (SAGAT) and a bi-polar subjective rating scale were used as the measures of situation awareness.;The results showed that the attention and memory limitations of engineering students who participated in this study were similar to that of non-engineer participants of previous studies, however engineering students seemed to be less impacted by such limitations. Automation reduced situation awareness and yielded mixed effects on task performance. High task pace improved situation awareness and had mixed impacts on task performance. Task duration yielded mixed effects on task performance and had no impact on situation awareness. Operators with high scores on the attention tests and the memory tests tended to have high task performance and high situation awareness. When compared with the entire participant pool, groups of individuals with similar attention and memory limitations produced not only stronger correlation coefficients amongst workload, task performance, and situation awareness, but also produced different sets of correlated components.;Therefore, both system factors and individual factors must be taken into account in the early stages of system design and evaluation. Psychological tests may be used to identify individuals potentially having high performance and high situation awareness when working in a complex system.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Jaruwan Klamklay



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

138 pages