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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/8498

Title: Computerised link analysis system: development and testing of a new link analysis system
Authors: Zhao, Yu
Issue Date: 2011
Publisher: © Yu Zhao
Abstract: Link Analysis (LA) is a popular ergonomics tool used to study and improve the layout of workspaces (Ferreira and Hignett, 2005); to study abstract relationships, for example between criminals (Harper and Harris, 1975) or ill people (Stuster and Chovil, 1994). It can also be used as a data (event) recording method to capture interactions to assist the understanding of staff behaviour and interactions with their environment (McDonald and Dzwonczyk, 1988). Currently, most researchers still rely on the manual method to perform LA. However, the traditional pen and paper method is cumbersome, time consuming and gives limited outputs. Since 1964, when Haygood et al. (1964) succeeded in improving the manual method of LA, researchers have been trying to use computer techniques to enhance the performance and increasing efficiency of LA. However, these methods may also have limitations. To address these limitations a Computerised Link Analysis (CLA) system has been developed. The CLA system is not only a computerised LA application (layout creating, event recording and result generating) which is able to reduce the time and effort compared to the manual method, but is also an integrated task analysis tool incorporating traditional LA functions, basic task analysis functions (recording detailed description of operator activities, as components of Hierarchical Task Analysis), and time-motion functions (recording time stamps of operator activities). Additional outputs that are not part of traditional LA comprise time-event lists (start/end time, duration, chronology, additional notes, importance and operator ID), processed link diagrams (with the link direction and frequency), as well as the conventional LA results of link diagrams and link tables. The CLA system was developed in four phases, including pre-test developments (CLA v1.01-v1.05) and post-test developments (CLA v1.05- v1.12). The pre-test developments are also called early software developments, iv and in this phase, the system was developed according to the specifications which were produced based on the limitations of LA and other computer-aided LA methods. Then three iterative tests were designed to test the functions of the system to make sure it performs reliably under both laboratory and real world conditions: The Technical Validation Test (CLA v1.05-v1.08) was carried out in a laboratory environment, aiming to ensure that the software and hardware for the CLA system worked technically and that the outputs achieved an acceptable level of accuracy (reliability testing and debugging). The Usability Test (CLA v1.08-v1.11) was carried out in a laboratory environment, aiming to test the software and hardware by observing the performance of 12 system operators as they used CLA, collecting user feedback after the test, and identifying possible improvements from users. The beta test (CLA v1.11-v1.12) was carried out in a field environment, aiming to make sure the faults identified in the Technical Validation and Usability tests were fixed; to review real-time data recording and analysis abilities and identify further improvements by using the CLA system in a complex real-life environment, Emergency Department (ED) at an UK hospital. The results show that CLA improves the traditional method of LA in both efficiency and effectiveness. A major step forward is the additional functionality of the CLA system as an integrated task analysis tool, which is able to collect and process real-time LA, HTA and time-motion data concurrently. This produces enriched data that result in both more detailed investigations of the target environment and lead to new research directions.
Description: A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/8498
Appears in Collections:PhD Theses (Design School)

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