The effects of shape-coding and mirror-imaging on the performance of a simulated roof bolting task

Certain underground mining machines have two identical control stations located on opposite sides of the machine. Often, operators who are accustomed to working on one side of the machine, switch to the control station on the other side, and confuse controls, a situation that can result in serious accidents and injury. This thesis addresses the question of how the controls should be arranged to simplify transfer from one station to the other. The controls can be either mirror-imaged or arranged in a left-to-right sequence. The use of shape-coded control knobs was also investigated to determine their relative advantage with each control arrangement. The experiment used a 2 X 2 X 8 mixed design. The first factor was arrangement of controls (mirror-image left-right), the second factor was code (shape or no shape-coded controls), and the third factor was trial (four practice and four transfer). Subjects were randomly assigned to one of the four treatment (2 X 2) conditions and learned a manual control task using either shape-coded control knobs or standard round knobs. (See more in text.)