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Human Research Program

Measuring, Monitoring, and Regulating Teamwork for Long Duration Missions

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Teamwork processes – entailing cognitive, motivational, affective, and behavioral aspects – have been researched in the psychological and behavioral sciences for well over a half century. Several lines of systematic research, large scale literature reviews, and meta-analytic summaries have firmly established that team processes, as key indicators of psycho-social team health, are critical contributors to team effectiveness, especially for “action” teams performing complex, interdependent tasks. Disruptions to teamwork jeopardize, due to conflict, low cohesion, or poor collaboration, have the potential to threaten team effectiveness. This is particularly the case under the isolated, confined, and extreme (ICE) conditions that can be anticipated for long duration space missions. These difficult operating environments are further challenged by high team autonomy and time lagged communications with ground. For high reliability teams, a disruption in good teamwork, especially at an inopportune time when well-coordinated teamwork is critical, can have disastrous consequences. Thus, the capability for NASA to measure, monitor, and regulate good teamwork interactions for flight crews and ground control teams is essential for overall mission effectiveness for the NASA strategic plan for space exploration. Developing this countermeasure capability is the goal of this ongoing research program. This proposed ground-based research is designed to address the following Program Requirements Document (PRD) Risk and Behavioral Health and Performance (BHP) Integrated Research Plan (IRP; 2011). PRD Risk: Risk of Performance Decrements Due to Inadequate Cooperation, Coordination, Communication, and Psychosocial Adaptation within a Team. IRP Gap – Team1: We need to understand the key threats, indicators, and life cycle of the team for autonomous, long duration and/or distance exploration missions. The proposed research has three specific aims and associated deliverables that represent an integrated approach for measuring, monitoring, and regulating teamwork processes and long-term team functioning: (1) Benchmark long duration team functioning in ICE analog environments. This research uses Experience Sampling Methods (ESM; daily assessments) to assess team functioning in ICE environments. The product of this research aim quantifies the expected range of variation in key teamwork processes (e.g., cohesion, collaboration, conflict), identifies internal and external shocks that influence variation, and assesses dynamic effects on team functioning. Benchmark data in ICE analog environments are essential for developing standards to distinguish expected variation in teamwork from anomalies indicative of a threat to team functioning. Such standards are essential for triggering countermeasures / interventions. (2) Extend engineering development of an unobtrusive monitoring technology (i.e., a wearable wireless sensor package). The product of this research aim advances development of a prototype monitoring technology to capture dynamic multimodal (i.e., physical, physiological, and behavioral) data capturing team member and teamwork interactions. Initial validation demonstrated the reliability and accuracy of the monitoring technology sufficient to establish proof of concept. Extensions include making the system more robust (i.e., packaging, energy efficiency, hardware, algorithms, and software) and developing a Bluetooth module for integrating additional sensors. (3) Develop teamwork interaction metrics and regulation support systems. The monitoring technology provides high frequency data streams on a range of team interaction and individual-level indicators. The product of this research aim develops supporting components (metrics, data fusion, and information display) required for these dynamic data streams to be utilized as a countermeasure for teams to regulate teamwork interactions and psycho-social health. To accomplish the product objectives highlighted above we have developed a multidisciplinary research team composed of experts spanning team development, regulation, and effectiveness (Kozlowski); psychological measurement of motivation, affect, and stress (Chang); and wireless monitoring of team member interactions (Biswas). This research contributes to reducing the risk of team performance decrements due to poor teamwork interactions by (a) characterizing normative and anomalous patterns of team functioning; (b) monitoring team member interactions; and (c) providing regulation support to maintain teamwork and to trigger countermeasures when needed to aid team recovery.

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