Cognitive load during training facilitates expert skilled performance in a complex spatio-temporal domain

Lisa Wise
Time: 2009-07-02  09:00 AM – 10:30 AM
Last modified: 2009-06-04


The ultimate aim of military fast jet flying training is to produce operational military pilots with expertise in the air combat domain. The higher-order cognitive skills of particular concern in this study are 4D spatio-temporal skills, which develop incrementally through training and experience. The notion of 2D, 3D and 4D spatio-temporal skills embodies a number of layers of meaning in the aviation domain.
Briefly, 2D space can be thought of as a planar view of space within an altitude buffer, which is referenced to the ground and the horizon. 3D space includes altitude as a dimension providing potential energy both in the physical sense and in the aerobatic manoeuvring sense. 4D space includes a temporal factor e.g., as would be required to intercept other dynamic entities. Trainee fighter pilots progress through an increasingly complex spatio-temporal domain during training. The additional cognitive load inherent in each new training phase can lead to a breakdown in airmanship (i.e., performing previously learned procedures out of sequence, committing unsafe acts, suffering information overload, and failing to prioritise appropriately). This paper examines the application of contextually- relevant cognitive load offered by new sensor and simulated threat technologies during training to consolidate 4D spatio-temporal skills and decision-making at each training level. This will ensure that there is spare cognitive capacity to proceed to the next training phase, facilitating the development of airmanship within the compressed timeline of the spatially complex air combat environment.

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