Bias and its effect on situation awareness



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Situation Awareness (SA) is critical for all aspects of life that involves decisions. SA becomes even more critical when people are under pressure, have limited time, and the decisions are important. While research originally focused on the military aspects of Situation Awareness, new work is beginning to look at its importance in high-stress environments such as hospital emergency rooms, fire and rescue operations, and hurricane evacuations. Environments such as these provide a critical view into how Situation Awareness is vital in decision-making. Having good Situation Awareness of key assets, their capabilities, and placement of assets, is critical for providing the best response in emergencies. Yet, even though SA is considered a critical aspect of decision-making, perhaps more important is that “inadequate or completely absent SA is cited as one of the primary factors in accidents attributed to human error,” (Reichenbach, March 2009). SA is critical to making decisions; the loss of SA can endanger lives and create a crisis. As shown in Figure 1 of Appendix A, SA is the greatest factor in a study focused on determining the contributing factors for near-miss events. This also highlights how decision-making is the second critical factor in near miss events for fires. Studies show that SA can greatly affect decision making. If SA is improved, better decisions will be made and there will be a decrease near miss events with contributing factors of loss of SA and poor decision making.
This dissertation provides a summary of the history of the Sapper Leader Course. From this history, papers written on SLC, interviews, and data collected by SLC Cadre, SLC will be analyzed quantitatively with qualitative support to determine biases at SLC. The identified biases will be analyzed to determine if they build the Situation Awareness (SA) of the students. SA is a critical aspect of the course as it guides students in making decisions. SA could be critical for many of the tests included in SLC such as land navigation, road marching, and patrols. SA was measured using the Situation Awareness Rating Technique (qualitative) and Situation Awareness Questionnaire (quantitative) which were collected through students, peers, and Cadre.
From this analysis, the purpose of this research is to systematically analyze the Sapper Leader Course and what biases effect the development of SA and graduation rates (performance). Biases can be effective and assist in speed and accuracy in decision-making. The biases (training, experience, or unit assigned to) may improve performance and graduation rates. The Situation Awareness within Sapper Leader Course was compared to student biases and their graduation data. The goal of this study is to show the connection of bias, to Situation Awareness, to decision making (graduation) at Sapper Leader Course.



Situation Awareness, Bias, Decision-Making, Performance, Military