A Framework of Interruptions in Distributed Team Environments

Author: Jamie A. Rukab

Primary Advisor: Kathy A. Johnson-Throop, PhD (co-author)

Committee Members: Jane Malin, PhD (co-author); Jiajie Zhang, PhD (co-author)

Masters thesis, The University of Texas School of Health Information Sciences at Houston.

In this study, we developed a framework for the study of interruptions in distributed team environments from the perspectives of distributed cognition and activity theory. The core of this framework is the Action Coding System (ACS) that provides a language for the description, representation, categorization, and analysis of interruptions at the level of activities that are meaningful for team performance. We demonstrated the practical utility and theoretical significance of ACS in an its application to a real-world, complex, dynamic, and mission critical environment - the Biomedical Engineer (BME) console in the Mission Control Center at NASA's Johnson Space Center. We discussed the potentials of our framework for the design of interruption management systems that could potentially eliminate some interruptions by information redesign, delegate others to autonomous agents, and help human agents to better manage the rest.