Submarine simulation – information to participants

The information below was provided to people who were interested in participating in the experiment





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Submarine simulation experiment.


1. How long is the experiment?

Answer: About 5 hours.  The experiment consists of about 2.5 hours training on day one, and just over 2 hours experiment on day two.  You must do the training day and the experiment in the same week.


2. How do I get credit for attending?

For first year participants, you need to sign up through SONA.  Once you have completed the second day, your credits will be allocated through the SONA system.

For other students participating for course credit and/or experiment experience, you need to sign up in accordance to instructions by your lecturer. You will be deemed to have attended once you have completed the second part of the experiment.

3. What is the experiment about?

Answer:The experiment investigates how changes in task demand and individual differences such as working memory impacts upon the ability for individuals to perform a submarine track management task.


4. What happens on Day 1?

Answer: Questionnaires and testing (55 min), training presentation (35 min), training video (12 min) and practice (30 min).  Individual differences including personality and working memory will be assessed first.  The training presentation on the simulation follows, and it includes a few quiz questions to ensure you understand the simulation and how to operate within it. You are then shown a video of the simulation to give you a sense the rate of movement to expect, and how to operate the simulation. You then complete a practice scenario, which is set in the Fremantle Area of Operations.  Except for the location, this is identical to the experimental conditions the next day.


5. What happens on Day 2?

Answer: Reminder training presentation (15 min) and experiment (1hr 40 min).  The training presentation is a review of your previous training.  The experiment consists of three scenarios, each in different geographical locations, and each 28 minutes long.  You do the scenarios one after the other.  There are questionnaires after each condition which should take about 5 minutes. The simulation has to be re-activated between conditions.


6. Is the task hard?

Answer: At times.  There will be moments where the task may be hard and moments when it is not.  This is deliberate, however it is not overly difficult.  The testing and questionnaires before the simulation can be challenging too, but not too much.  The training you will receive is detailed and thorough, with learning checks along the way.  You should be proficient at the tasks before the experiment even begins.  The most important thing to remember is to do your best.  This way the results are more meaningful for the research.


7. What does the simulator look like?

Answer: The simulator comprises two screens.  The one on the left is called the Surface Plot.  It provides you a birds eye view of the area of operations.  You are in the middle of the screen.  The screen on the right is called the Waterfall display.  It shows the information on the Surface Plot but in a different way.  It shows the changes in bearing (from you) of each contact with time (vertical axis), and each contact is depicted by a line.  Each contact line appears to ‘fall down’ the display, hence the term ‘waterfall display’.




8. How do I interact with the simulation?

Answer: You will be seated in front of the two displays.  You will be using a mouse and keyboard, and clicking on on-screen buttons during the simulation.  The questionnaires and individual differences tests are also completed on the computer.


9. What information is gathered from the experiment?

Answer: Your results from the simulation is recorded.  This is how long you take to respond to questions, how accurate you were with the tasks, and your reaction times.  Of course, the information from the questionnaires such as personality and working memory will also be recorded.


10. Are my results confidential?

Answer: As with all experiments with human participants, confidentiality is assured.  A sign up sheet with your name and student number is required in the laboratory to ensure you are attending the right time slot for training and the experiment, and to liaise with you about time slots and logistics if necessary.  Once the experiment is completed, this is destroyed. In the lab you are assigned a number, and it is this number that is linked to every test, questionnaire and experiment you complete during the two days.  This allows us to compile the data for each participant.  We only use this number, not your name or student number.


11. Where is the experiment conducted?
Answer: The experiment is held at the UWA Perth Campus in the Human Factors laboratory.  This is located in the Sanders building on the top floor (room 2.16).

SandersMap SandersPhoto


12. When is the experiment running?

Answer:The experiment is running during semester 2 in 2014.

Part one is conducted on Monday and Wednesday mornings in accordance to the sign up slots.  Part two is conducted on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  If you do part 1 on Monday, you must do part 2 on Tuesday in the same week.  If you do part 1 on Wednesday you must do part 2 on Thursday in the same week.


13. If I did the training, but missed the experiment in the same week, can I do the experiment the next week?

Answer: Yes, but only if you do the training again before the experiment, and in the same week.  You won’t need to do the questionnaires again though.  It is important that the experiment follows the training within two days, to ensure no training is forgotten and performance is optimised.


14. Will I be told how I performed?

Answer: The simulation will provide some feedback at the end of each condition.  This is displayed on your screen briefly after the condition is complete for your information.  Your overall performance data however is collated with your participant number only, with no identifiable information.  It is therefore unavailable to you or anyone else.


15. How does this research contribute to human knowledge?

Answer: The interaction between humans and machines has considerable research attention.  This is not surprising given our increasing interaction with technology.  In many societies, humans interact with machines regularly and frequently.  For example, operators must track multiple objects, process diverse data, predict future events, all whilst making concurrent decisions under dynamic conditions.  Examples of such operators range from vehicle drivers (cars, trucks etc), pilots, air traffic controllers, power plant operators, and of course, those who must track and manage ships and submarines in a given range.

The operator’s workload can vary and can influence performance.  This experiment is hoped to extend current research on the design and application of human-machine interfaces.  It is also hoped this research will contribute towards how operator workload may be managed in human-machine interaction, and the influence of specific individual differences such as working memory capacity and spatial ability.


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