This chapter describes a Team Performance Task (TPT) that has been designed to assess the status of a three-person team operating a game-like multiplayer task requiring inter-player cooperation to achieve optimal performance effectiveness. The objective of the TPT is to extract features of an operational setting that may be integrated into a task scenario that will yield multi-dimensional indices of both individual and team performances that are sensitive to alterations in the workload parameters and to the skill level and cohesion of the players. The design of a prototype task is described in detail, and evaluative results based on observations of five groups of three players are presented to show the individual and team metrics of performance effectiveness that are made available with this task. Future applications of the TPT are suggested, to include its potential to diagnose and support the cohesiveness and operational readiness of teams operating within space-based and other challenging environments.
Where the successful accomplishment of an organization’s mission requires the coordinated contributions of two or more individuals collectively identified with the achievement of a common objective, the conditions for a team are operationally defined (Emurian, Brady, Ray, Meyerhoff, & Mougey, 1984). This definition is consistent with Salas, Rosen, Burke, Nicholson, and Howse (2007) who emphasize teams to be units of people having (1) task interdependencies and dynamic social interactions, (2) shared valued goals, (3) a limited lifespan, (4) distributed expertise, (5) and clearly defined participant roles. Eliciting and evaluating teamwork within distributed multiplayer game-based settings have been acknowledged to show great potential for engaging players in immersive and simulated environments in which to observe complex behaviors having direct relevance to the mission of an organization, to include the U.S. military (Hussain, Weil, Brunye, Sidman, Alexander, & Ferguson, 2008) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Emurian, Canfield, Roma, Gasior, Brinson, Hienz, Hursh, & Brady, 2009; Hienz, Brady, Hursh, Gasior, Spence, & Emurian, 2008). Related research documents the applications of online computer games to support collaborative and distributive communications, peer interactions, and resource sharing to achieve learning objectives (Papastergiou, 2008), and guidelines for the development of collaborative educational videogames overlap with several of the five features of a team given above (Zea, Sanchez, Gutierrez, Cabrera, & Paderewski, 2009). Finally, Mayo (2009) noted that an attractive dimension of game-based assessment is its potential to track sequences of user actions and communications that can be mapped onto higher-order skills and abilities.