Measuring Real-Time Team Cognition During Team Training

Hum Factors. 2020 Aug;62(5):825-860. doi: 10.1177/0018720819852791. Epub 2019 Jun 18.


Objective: A method for detecting real-time changes in team cognition in the form of significant communication reorganizations is described. We demonstrate the method in the context of scenario-based simulation training.

Background: We present the dynamical view that individual- and team-level aspects of team cognition are temporally intertwined in a team's real-time response to challenging events. We suggest that this real-time response represents a fundamental team cognitive skill regarding the rapidity and appropriateness of the response, and methods and metrics are needed to track this skill.

Method: Communication data from medical teams (Study 1) and submarine crews (Study 2) were analyzed for significant communication reorganization in response to training events. Mutual information between team members informed post hoc filtering to identify which team members contributed to reorganization.

Results: Significant communication reorganizations corresponding to challenging training events were detected for all teams. Less experienced teams tended to show delayed and sometimes ineffective responses that more experienced teams did not. Mutual information and post hoc filtering identified the individual-level inputs driving reorganization and potential mechanisms (e.g., leadership emergence, role restructuring) underlying reorganization.

Conclusion: The ability of teams to rapidly and effectively reorganize coordination patterns as the situation demands is a team cognitive skill that can be measured and tracked.

Application: Potential applications include team monitoring and assessment that would allow for visualization of a team's real-time response and provide individualized feedback based on team member's contributions to the team response.

Keywords: communication analysis; dynamical systems; real-time analysis; simulation training; team cognition.