Extending CDM: The value of emotional probes and non-expert participants in Critical Decision Method

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Kyle Harrington, University of Nottingham

The Critical Decision Method (Klein 1989) is an incident-based knowledge elicitation technique that has been used in a variety of contexts in order to understand the decision making processes of experts, often used as part of a Cognitive Task Analysis. This paper explores the implications of extending the Critical Decision Method in two ways; applying this technique to a group of non-experts, and explicitly probing the influence of emotional factors on decision making.

A series of interviews were conducted with Search and Rescue experts and carers of adults, using the Critical Decision Method to discover underlying trends within missing person search activities. Five one hour (apx) interviews were conducted for each of the two groups. Participants were asked to recall an event in which they were engaged in searching for an adult that could be considered ‘vulnerable’. A timeline was constructed by the interviewer and verified during the course of the interview. Critical decision points were then identified in a collaborative fashion and a series of standardised probing questions were asked for each decision point. The suggested probes in the Critical Decision Method were adapted (from Crandell 2006) in an attempt to elicit emotional factors which may have affected decision making within this context. Finally, the transcripts were codified iteratively using Emergent Thematic Analysis as suggested by Wong and Blandford (2004).

Date & time

7-8 June 2016

NCTL Learning and Conference Centre, Nottingham

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