An investigation of the relationship between similarity in cognitive processing and time-sharing performance in a computer-windowing environment



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Texas Tech University


Recent advancements in computer systems have led to highly complex human-computer interfaces. One of the most notable developments is the multiple-window display technology which allows the user of a computer generated display to simultaneously access and act upon multiple sources of information (Gaylin, 1986). Although preliminary research involving computer windowing has been favorable, little research is available concerning the effects of window management techniques on operator performance involving complex, concurrent task combinations. Furthermore, some information processing theories indicate that human time-sharing capabilities may be affected by various task factors.

This study examined possible performance variations that may result from combinations of cognitive tasks presented via computer generated multiple-window displays. The experiment employed a computerized assessment battery. Complex Cognitive Assessment Battery (CCAB), to generate four sets of dual tasks that varied in terms of cognitive processing similarity. The results suggested that similarity of cognitive processes affected time-sharing task performance. Specifically, subjects' performances were not affected by task similarity in the single-task conditions; however, performance levels for one of the dual tasks decreased as the similarity of cognitive processes in the multi-task conditions decreased. Additionally, test assessment procedures significantly affected subjects' response strategies. Subjects performed tasks with freestyle solutions more slowly but more accurately than tasks with multiple-choice answers. These findings were translated into design considerations for real-world systems.



Performance, Time-sharing computer systems, Human-computer interaction, Windows (Computer programs)