Methods

As practitioners in the areas of applied cognitive psychology, industrial-organizational psychology, adult learning and military sciences, we identify and apply scientific methods and techniques that best suit the unique requirements of each client.  Our ability to immerse ourselves in a domain of interest and competently frame problems allows us to select the research methods that are the best fit for the problem or requirement.  Our mixed research designs and problem solving techniques ensure we understand the problem from our client’s perspective, instead of simply relying on a templated approach.  We are highly experienced in conducting ethically sound and safe research involving human participants.

Mastery Modeling

Mastery Models are customized descriptions of the developmental progression toward expertise, or mastery, for a particular job in a cognitively complex domain. The Mastery Modeling approach is grounded in the five stages of cognitive skill acquisition first described by Dreyfus and Dreyfus (1986). Through semi-structured interviewing processes, CPG extracts first-hand knowledge of the role from individuals who have performed it and mentored the development of others. The data analysis produces a set of Key Performance Areas describing the primary competencies for the job or role—the what individuals do. Then, performance indicators for each of five levels of proficiency are identified for each Key Performance Area, describing how individuals perform the job at each stage of development. Taken together, the contents of the Mastery Model comprise a roadmap to achieving mastery in a domain or job position. These models codify the qualities and desired performance that must be considered when developing training interventions, creating assessment tools, or selecting individuals for a role.

Cognitive Task Analysis

Cognitive Task Analysis is a family of techniques with which to capture, delineate, and represent the cognitive demands associated with a task or job. A CTA typically involves a series of semi-structured interviews with domain experts, followed by analysis and representation of findings to answer the research questions and guide product development. We often apply CTA techniques to elicit and document the decision requirements of a job as well as the strategies domain experts employ to make decisions fluidly and effectively. We then use that understanding to create training that will accelerate the development of domain expertise in less experienced individuals, or assessment tools that reveal an individual’s level of proficiency at the job. Our team members are well-versed at several CTA techniques, including Task Diagram, Knowledge Audit, Critical Decision Method, and Simulation Interviews.

Cognitive Competency Modeling

Cognitive Competency Modeling is a technique developed by CPG for modeling the nature of expert performance within an organization and focuses on areas of cognitive performance that contribute to success. Cognitive Competency Models include an aggregation of knowledge, skill, and cognitive abilities (KSAs) with behaviors used to illustrate the observable actions on the job. We specialize in using a blended modeling approach that focuses on the benefits of different methodologies. Our blended approach combines the strengths of traditional competency modeling and cognitive task analysis to comprehensively understand the behavioral and cognitive elements of complex jobs. This technique ensures that we can establish and document the job relevance of interventions in a manner that is both ethically and scientifically sound. We use this approach to then create a variety of interventions, such as cognitively-based training scenarios, performance appraisals, position descriptions, and assessment tools.

Concept Mapping

Concept mapping comprises a knowledge elicitation methodology as well as a technique for organizing and visually representing expert knowledge. Concept maps facilitate the visualization of domain concepts and the linkages and relationships among them. Concept mapping is often used as a knowledge management tool to capture and record the knowledge of experts, for example, before to their retirement. At CPG, we employ concept mapping as a technique in our CTA toolkit. It supports collaborative knowledge elicitation with the domain experts we interview, and it facilitates assessment efforts by enabling comparisons of domain knowledge across individuals. As a tool for representation, concept maps prove effective in organizing and navigating through large, rich data sets. We also use concept map tools internally to manage, sort, and analyze data sets.

Quantitative Methodologies

At times our work demands a more quantitative approach to data collection and analysis. In those instances where our clients require an empirical, data-driven answer to a perplexing problem that lends itself to measurement, we apply standard analytic tools and statistical tests.  We are adept at designing experiments, formulating surveys and questionnaires, collecting and analyzing data, and interpreting results. We often employ quantitative techniques in conjunction with qualitative methodologies to assess training effectiveness, assess user reactions to tools or strategies, measure the impact of an intervention, or validate qualitative findings.