Team Task Switching in Astronaut Crews on the International Space Station: Integrating Multiteam Membership, Multiteam Systems, multi-tasking, & Multidimensional Networks to Monitor & Enable Functional Work Shifts in Astronaut Crews

Project: Research project

Project Details


Interviews with current and former astronauts as well as reports from astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) reveal the potential for decrements in crew performance stemming from difficulties in shifting back and forth between independent work and highly interdependent work. For example, ISS crews tend to work for extensive periods of time on independent tasks associated with research projects and other mission-related activities. However, these crewmembers are also expected to switch seamlessly and sometimes spontaneously to interdependent team-based tasks of high criticality and time urgency (e.g., Extravehicular Activity - EVAs, spacecraft maintenance). We define this as a problem of team task switching. Team task switching impacts the cognitive, motivational, behavioral, and performance effects that result when individuals respond to changing work demands within teams. Changes requiring members to switch tasks, switch teammates, and/or switch tools and technologies deplete attentional resources and make additional cognitive processing demands, which in turn affect the potential for adaptive and seamless task switching. Further, the multiteam structure of NASA requires individuals to regularly shift goal focus in response to dynamic situational requirements. Astronauts often work independently toward a goal, while at other times they work interdependently within a team, and at yet other times, they work as a part of a large system of teams. Hence, team task switching encompasses both lateral shifts that entail a change in one or more dimensions of work (e.g., task versus tool shifts) as well as vertical shifts that entail a change in the degree of interdependence (e.g., shifting upward from independent to interdependent work versus shifting downward from interdependent to independent work).
Effective start/end date11/9/1711/8/23


  • NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (80NSSC18K0276 - P00016)


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