CCE Theses and Dissertations

The Effects of Air Traffic Controllers' Cognitive Style, Learning Strategies and Performance within a Multimedia Training Environment

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences


Steven R. Terrell

Committee Member

Maxine S. Cohen

Committee Member

Phyllis P. Marson


The purpose of this research was to examine the relationship of air traffic controllers' cognitive styles, learning strategies, and performance within a multimedia learning environment. The treatment software employed a revised human computer interface (RCI) that had recently been introduced to Air Traffic Control management training. This HCI offered users expanded options for controlling course sequence and content. Subjects for this study included 30 Air Traffic Control Specialist (ATCS) supervisors stationed at Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Regional Air Route Control Centers in Jacksonville and Miami, Florida. Subjects completed a pre-test, a treatment module on labor relations, and tests for immediate recall and retention. Tracking code recorded subjects' navigation. Specifically, this research examined the relationship between subjects' cognitive styles (i.e. field dependence), levels of deviation from provided course sequence and content, and performance on immediate recall and retention measures.

The ATCS cognitive screen protocol produces a homogeneous population of controllers exhibiting a unique suite of cognitive skills. These skills are deemed essential to the traffic control function. Subjects from the research sample fell within the field independent range of cognitive style (mean 13 .83, SD 3.65). Pearson Product-Moment correlation indicated a significant, moderately low relationship between cognitive style and immediate recall measure (r =. 37, CL =. 05) and a significant, moderately low correlation between cognitive style and retention (r =. 38, CL =. 05).

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