Crews in future long duration space missions require astronauts to adapt to and address challenges drawing on their own skills and knowledge, supported by on-board resources and system automation. Communication lags between the crew and ground mission control require that astronauts adapt to and address challenges drawing on their own skills and knowledge, supported by on-board resources and system automation. Even with short delays, communication becomes more difficult and the overhead of seeking help from earth becomes much greater. Further, crew-size is likely to be smaller, and time from training longer, increasing the challenge of ensuring sufficient manpower and adequate skills and knowledge of crews on future long-distance missions. To support the required increase in self-reliance, crews must be trained for altered operations. They must be able to generalize and adapt old skills and knowledge to transfer to new situations. While important for all human space flight, the skills and knowledge to support such transfer, as well as to retain the specifics of what one has been taught, are particularly critical for operations far from earth.
Cognitive psychology, education, and training researchers have investigated many issues related to transfer and retention of skills and knowledge. The objectives of this investigation was to identify the characteristics of skills and knowledge that lead to better retention and transfer context to new situations. By identifying these the proposed research also will help identify how current training practices at NASA should be changed to acquire integrated skills and knowledge.
This study had the following aims:
- Determine which skills and knowledge can be retained and generalized.
- Determine which skills and knowledge are needed for operating and supporting on-board life support systems.
- Determine how expertise and transferable skills and knowledge are interrelated
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A literature search will be followed by piloting and experimentation to a) define appropriate measures and manipulations and b) assess the extent that integrated skills and knowledge generalizes well and is well-retained relative to skills and knowledge covering related content but without the integrating relationships. Experimentation will aim to produce integrated knowledge though a variety of learning activities that a) build links from procedural skills to abstract principles through processes such as self-explanation, thus facilitating their decomposition and reuse and b) build links from abstract principles to specific procedures through processes such as instantiation, thus aiding their application. Evidence shows that integrated knowledge is better retained as the many links of integrated knowledge provide multiple, alternative retrieval cues accessible in many contexts. It will be assessed whether manipulations that produce integrated knowledge also produce better generalization (as well as measuring retention), relative to knowledge that spans related content but is not integrated; and whether such effects can be attributed to the mediating role of integrated knowledge.
Investigators will use a complex technology work domain, utilizing spacecraft life-support systems as a test bed for this project to investigate the “performance of system-related tasks in highly autonomous environments,” such as operation, maintenance, and troubleshooting components within habitat life-support systems. Three factors motivate this choice.1) Such work is highly relevant to long-distance, crewed missions. 2) Prior research has studied operation of devices and thus provides findings on representations supporting generalization in similar contexts. 3) An existing software suite will be used including simulation of life-support devices on the International Space Station (ISS) and procedures for their operation as a test bed. This “micro-world” enables experimental control, yet is a close analog of real mission work. In this domain the critical skills and knowledge are primarily cognitive (e.g., deciding what procedure to use), rather than sensory-motor (e.g., how hard a wrench must be turned). “Meta-knowledge” data, such as identifying what information is missing when resources such as just-in-time-training are relevant, will be noted.
It will be assessed whether interventions related to integration produce forms of skills and knowledge that generalize well and are well retained, a prediction motivated by prior findings but not investigated directly, nor in NASA-relevant context. If integration is the basis for the predicted outcomes, it will provide a powerful principle for identifying and creating forms of skills and knowledge that are both generalizable and retainable. If not, it will be discovered how learning is affected by important training interventions in a domain highly relevant to NASA future crewed exploration missions. This research will narrow the gap in understanding the factors that make skills and knowledge for NASA-critical tasks more generalizable and more retainable.
Summarized results for this investigation are currently not available.
Crew health and performance is critical to successful human exploration beyond low Earth orbit.
The Human Research Program (HRP) investigates and mitigates the highest risks to human health
and performance, providing essential countermeasures and technologies for human space exploration.
Risks include physiological and performance effects from hazards such as radiation, altered gravity,
and hostile environments, as well as unique challenges in medical support, human factors,
and behavioral health support. The HRP utilizes an Integrated Research Plan (IRP) to identify
the approach and research activities planned to address these risks, which are assigned to specific
Elements within the program. The Human Research Roadmap is the web-based tool for communicating the IRP content.
The Human Research Roadmap is located at: https://humanresearchroadmap.nasa.gov/
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for information of how this experiment is contributing to the HRP's path for risk reduction.