this chapter, models of such situations are termed multitasking models. Both theories and models of attention and multitasking behavior are reviewed. Conclusions and goals emerging from this review are presented in the final section. First, however, some essential details related to attention and multitasking are added to the vignette presented in Chapter 2, and some key concepts and terms are defined.

Hasty Defense Vignette: Additional Details

To frame the discussion and provide examples of attention and multitasking concepts, it is necessary to add some detail to the hasty defense vignette described in Chapter 2. These details include specific tasks the platoon leader is responsible for performing.

Suppose that after the initial engagement, the tank platoon has moved to battle position 1 (BP1). All tanks have moved into initial hide positions, and all tank commanders have identified fire and alternative hide positions. All the tank commanders and gunners (including the platoon leader and his gunner) are scanning for additional enemy forces. The scenario unfolds according to the event sequence found in Exhibit 4.1. At this point in the scenario, the platoon leader is attempting to perform the following tasks:

  • Maintain general situation awareness, and initiate appropriate tasks

  • Report enemy contact to A Company commander

  • Assess battle damage (to first T-80)

  • Monitor movement to alternate position

  • Monitor fire on second T-80—interrupted by third T-80

  • Assess damage to own tank

  • Direct turret slew toward target (third T-80)

  • Communicate with platoon

  • Reset radio

  • Monitor firing (on T-80)

Clearly, the platoon leader cannot perform all these tasks simultaneously. Furthermore—and significant to the theme of this chapter—the way he allocates his attention to these tasks will have a significant effect on the outcome of the battle.

Key Concepts and Terms

Relation to Learning

The relationship between learning and attention and multitasking has intrigued researchers and theorists from the earliest days of experimental psychology. For example, Bryan and Harter (1899) studied improvements in the sending and receiving of telegraphy. They proposed that naive performers needed to

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