Research projects

 

The NASA AMES Project: Problem-Solving Training Sessions and use of NASA’s Computer based Task Performance Site
Date 2005-2006
Location NASA AMES Research Centre, CA; Andrews Air Base, CA
Role Researcher/ Psychosocial Trainer
Overview of activities
  • developed and implemented human relations training
  • compiled data from these trainings
  • evaluated long-term behavioural effects of training on participants
Project overview This four year project examined:

  1. how team composition affects team effectiveness, affect and cohesion
  2. whether stress identification strategies predict Team performance across diverse crews,
  3. whether there is an ideal group composition
  4. the effectiveness of various training approaches to counteract team dysfunctions

Results from this study were to provide:

  1. technologies for predicting breakdown of team dynamics and performance
  2. guidelines for selecting, training, and assembling teams of astronauts and team feedback
  3. strategies for managing stress in multi-cultural and gender-mixed teams

Note: While this ongoing project sought to develop research techniques and to gather fundamental new knowledge, it suffered a huge setback when the United States government (under the Bush Jr. administration) unexpectedly cut funds after the first year of research. The remainder of the funds awarded were shifted to Robotics away from Human Factors. Consequently, this experiment is currently running on a skeleton staff, who do not have the funds to continue running the project. With previous and future funding not forthcoming in the foreseeable future, the project has unfortunately been postponed indefinitely.

 

The Leadership Challenge Project: Enriching Volunteer Communities
Date 2002-2005
Location Cross- Canada
Role Leadership Team (member)Design Team (member)
Overview of activities
  • Attended all of the national and regional meetings
  • Worked closely with the volunteers chosen to represent their organizations
  • Worked with volunteer leaders to increase their knowledge and skill base when working with groups through the use of group theory and experiential learning
  • Developed and implemented human relations training
  • Compiled data from these trainings
  • Assessed residential programs created with a selection of tools and methods including interviews, observations, self descriptions, post meeting reports, focus groups, usefulness ratings, team analysis, back-home project proposal evaluations, attendance and drop out data, and behaviour descriptions before, during and five months after the program.
Project overview This project was charged with creating, implementing, and assessing a volunteer leadership development pilot project of The Kidney Foundation of Canada, in collaboration with seven selected national health charities through the Health Charities Council of Canada. These charities were:

  • Acoustic Neuroma Association of Canada,
  • Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
  • Canadian Diabetes Association
  • Canadian Down Syndrome Society
  • Lupus Canada
  • National Ovarian Cancer Association
  • Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada.

 

The SFINCSS Mission Project: Team Behaviour in Isolation: Enhancing Team Performance for Long Duration Space Missions
Date 1999-2000
Location Russia
Role Principal Investigator
Overview of activities
  • Directed the project
  • Designed and implemented peer ratings, questionnaires and interviews that assessed tension within and between crews, critical incidents and cultural factors that impacted crew interaction.
  • Compiled and analyzed data
  • Prepared reports presenting findings
  • Assured scientific integrity of the project
Project overview This project “Simulation of Flight of International Crew on Space Station” was carried out with international backing during the period of July 1999 to April 2000 (240 days). The project was sponsored by the Japanese government, and included participation from Canada, Russia, and Japan. The goal was to examine the psychosocial problems of living and working in an orbiting space station with an international, multicultural crew. Our research examined problems that occurred during group interaction, and tested out counter measures (such as specialized group interaction training) to determine whether the acquisition of these types of skills would better equip astronauts and cosmonauts to deal with psychosocial problems that arise from teamwork during space missions.In the course of the simulation, primary conditions of life aboard ISS were simulated (except for micro-gravity): isolation and confinement: environmental parameters including gas composition, pressure, humidity, temperature, noise, etc: main in-flight operations including montage and docking: communication with Mission Control: nutrition, and sanitary and hygiene concerns. Investigators also simulated possible difficult in-flight situations, including such off-nominal parameters as sleep deprivation.Three crews (n = 12) were confined in connected hyperbaric chambers. Group 1 was confined for 240 days, while Groups 2 and 3 were confined for 110 days. Group 1 was composed of four Russian subjects; Group 2 included three Russian subjects and one non-Russian subject; and Group 3 included Japanese, Russian, Austrian and Canadian subjects. Group 3 included the only female participant. Peer ratings, questionnaires and interviews assessed tension within and between crews, critical incidents and cultural factors that impacted crew interaction.

 

The CAPSULS (Canadian Astronaut Program Space Unit Life Simulation) Mission Project: Understanding Small Group Behaviour with a View to Maximizing Team Effectiveness and Task Accomplishment
Date 1994
Location Toronto
Role Principal Investigator
Overview of activities
  • Directed the project
  • Designed and implemented experiments/training that addressed areas central to team effectiveness and team maintenance. The approach used was experiential with a focus on interactive learning, feedback, and reflection.
  • Compiled and analyzed data
  • Prepared reports presenting findings
  • Assured scientific integrity of the project
Project overview In 1994, the Canadian Space Agency’s Astronaut Program and the Department of National Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine joined forces to host The Canadian Astronaut Program Space Unit Life Simulation (CAPSULS). This was the first simulation of its kind to be conducted outside of Russia. CAPSULS was an earth-based initiative that simulated a typical space shuttle or space station mission. Over 10 countries were involved, including: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, The United Kingdom, and the United States. The experiment was based on the assumption that task accomplishment and productivity within a team can be enhanced when those involved have:

  1. Heightened awareness and understanding of group process and its developmental aspects.
  2. Skills related to team building and team functioning.

This understanding and these skills would not only influence task accomplishment but also the development and implementation of strategies and norms appropriate to the needs and purposes of the group. This has direct bearing on the group’s effectiveness and on the well-being of its members.

This project focused on group process, group behaviour and interpersonal relations in space. The expense was minimal and time allotment was short. Participants consisted of a chamber crew of four astronauts and a ground crew of five staff drawn from the Canadian Space Agency.