requiring similar sensorimotor behaviors. Because these types of behavior allow for immediate and reliable responses, this depth of learning is particularly important to tasks resolving emergencies and to time-critical, safety-critical tasks.
Thus methods for training individual astronauts on specific tasks need to be tailored to the depth of knowledge expected for each task. For training to knowledge-based behaviors, classroom instruction and self-study are common. For rule-based behaviors, a mock-up or part-task simulation needs to emulate the key dynamics of the operation such that the astronaut can be expected to recognize the triggers of specific rules, identify the systems and controls to act on in order to execute the required steps, and then monitor the results to make sure that these steps are successful in terms of system response to their actions. Thus a mock-up or part-task simulation could be as simple as a computer simulation of the most important systems with similar controls, surrounded by a cardboard schematic of the surrounding environment.
Skill-based training requires the greatest-fidelity, highest-cost facilities. The NASA Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, for example, is used in extravehicular activity (EVA) training; it situates the astronauts in a perceptibly risky environment so that they experience the discomfort and limited movement of a real space suit, and it strives to provide a realistic representation of International Space Station components such that the astronauts can quickly recognize important features from multiple perspectives.
Some industries, such as commercial aviation, have a significant population to train and have used an economy of scale to streamline training systematically. For example, airline pilots are first trained and tested on a range of knowledge-based behaviors in a ground school. Then, in training and testing on rule-based behaviors, the airline pilots move through a series of part-task simulators and cockpit mock-ups—these range from cardboard mockups of the entire cockpit (in which pilots are expected to learn the position of each cockpit control to the level of being able to reach each control with their eyes closed); to emulators of specific systems that they can run on their personal computers, imitating a system’s operation by clicking the mouse on pictures of the correct buttons on the computer screen; to fairly complete mock-ups of the entire cockpit but without motion, sound, or the view out the window. Only when these knowledge- and rule-based behaviors are demonstrated do airline pilots move to the most advanced, highest-fidelity “Level-D” flight simulators. These simulators, according to Federal Aviation Administration regulations, must fit an extensive list of specific capabilities, including a full emulation of the cockpit in which all of the controls look and act exactly the same as those of the actual aircraft. These highest-fidelity simulators are associated with significant acquisition costs ($5 million to $20 million for established production systems) and operational costs (hundreds of dollars per hour), require specialized infrastructure (e.g., significant electrical power, reinforced concrete floors), and must be maintained by specialized personnel. The required use of these facilities is systematically justified through established, regulated methods for analyzing required tasks and their depth of understanding (such as the Advanced Qualification Program). Such training programs also monitor individual progression through the process in order to tailor training protocols to maximize both learning and cost-effectiveness, while routinely evaluating overall program efficacy and cost-effectiveness.
Many training environments, including those for the Astronaut Corps, do not have an economy of scale that warrants the acquisition and maintenance of a wide range of simulators of varying fidelity. Knowledge-based and rule-based behaviors can be learned in high-fidelity simulators, but skill-based behaviors cannot be learned in low-fidelity simulators or classrooms. Thus the need for the highest-fidelity training facilities is paramount, as smaller training operations must maintain high-fidelity training facilities and, for maximal cost-effectiveness, fully utilize them. Additionally, these facilities can eliminate any cheaper, lower-fidelity simulations, for which the trainees can instead train within the availability of higher-fidelity simulations.
A third training requirement is the need to develop teamwork skills in general and to execute these skills within a specific operational culture. These teamwork skills are largely assumed in astronaut training to emerge as a byproduct of simultaneously training multiple individuals together (i.e., without formal teamwork training), although in other domains including commercial aviation, team training, such as crew resource management training, has become far more formalized than it is in astronaut training. Research suggests that team training interventions are a viable approach for enhancing team outcomes. Such training approaches are useful for improving cognitive outcomes, affective outcomes, teamwork processes, and performance outcomes. Moreover, results suggest that