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Lyndsey K. Lanagan-Leitzel, Cathleen M. Moore; Novice and expert performance on a computerized lifeguarding task: A second look. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):1211. doi: 10.1167/9.8.1211.
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Last year, we reported data from a study where trained lifeguards and non-lifeguards (who were taught the behaviors associated with drowning) monitored 60 short video clips of varied swimming scenes for drowning behavior while an eye-tracker monitored their gaze position. Due to time constraints, last year's analysis focused on “critical events” - events that indicate a potential drowning or an increased risk for drowning - and found that lifeguards monitored more of these events than non-lifeguards. A limitation of that analysis was that only one fixation of the critical event was necessary to demonstrate monitoring of each event. A good lifeguard should continue to monitor an ongoing critical event to ensure that the situation is resolved with the patron safe. A good lifeguard should also have a gaze pattern consistent with being thorough and on-task, attending to all parts of the scene that will allow him/her to assess patron safety, and only those parts. To assess re-fixations and overall gaze patterns, a second analysis was performed on the data collected last year. Each fixation lasting one-third of a second or longer was examined, and the focus of that fixation was coded. So far in the analysis, the lifeguards did not outperform the trained non-lifeguards on re-fixations of critical events. This suggests that both lifeguards and trained participants were cognizant of the hazardous situations. As expected, the lifeguards had a wider spread of fixation locations compared to the non-lifeguards, suggesting that they had better coverage of the entire body of water in the scene. Also as expected, the lifeguards spent more time fixating the water, suggesting that they were better able to stay on-task than the non-lifeguards. These results suggest that although a simple training exercise may improve non-lifeguard monitoring of critical events, it does not yield true lifeguard performance.
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