Monday, October 18, 2004

Performance Strategy

There are some questions that came up at work regarding the best strategy to use to remember a performance. My department researches and writes training courses and maintenance manuals for our company. In the process of speaking with a SME, a couple of co-workers were told of a better strategy to remember what was inspected and when. My co-workers asked some of us if we would participate in the research to collect more information before we implement this new strategy into our training manuals. I am posing the question in this forum to see if any of you have had any experience or done any research yourself on the topic.

The performance in question regards inspecting machinery or equipment before putting it to use. The question is, "Is there a difference in recall when a person goes around the equipment and visually inspects versus visually inspecting and touching the equipment at the same time? Here is the scenario.

When Steve (a SME) was learning how to fly, his instructor told him to touch each gauge or part he was inspecting during pre-flight procedures. Steve's instructor told him that if he only completed his pre-flight checks visually and someone asked him 30 minutes later if he checked a gauge, his degree of certainty would decrease. Steve might start to doubt he had checked the gauge. Someone else might even be able to convince him that he had not checked it at all.

One pre-flight procedure is to inspect the wings of the plane. This inspection involved 12 different points on each wing. If you only visually inspect the wing, you are likely to gloss over the inspection and miss one or more of the 12 inspection points. Steve was instructed to touch each of the 12 inspection points as followed the written pre-flight checklist.

The lesson is that when performing a visual inspection, touching the part you are inspecting helps you focus your attention on the task. The focus combined with the tactile sense then embeds the action into your memory.

Do you agree, disagree, or have any comment to the theory that by physically performing an inspection, you are more likely to recall the event than if you just looked at the items and marked them off on your list?


At 9:32 PM, Blogger Matt Moore said...


It seems to me that this type of pre-flight check is valid because it involves two or more senses.

My background is primarily in language instruction and computer science / computer skills instruction. In both situations I find that my students retain more facts, concepts, and procedures while involved in a multisensory activity.

For example in foreign languages, the students write while they are speaking conversations in the classroom. There is always some writing task to turn in. This also works with listening / watching a video. They also turn in written work when done. In computer classes, my students seem to learn quickly while I am showing them how to use software via the digital projector. It is a multitasking world in which we live and I believe the students of today (workers of tomorrow) are quite capable of dual sensory tasks that are imprinting on the mind for later recall.

Your plan makes sense for me. I would feel better flying in that plane too.


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