Airport Security Screeners Expertise and Implications for Interface Design

Levi Swann, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia,
Vesna Popovic, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia,
Alethea Blackler, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia,
Ben Kraal, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia,


This paper describes research investigating expertise and the types of knowledge used by
airport security screeners. It applies a multi method approach incorporating eye tracking, concurrent verbal protocol and interviews.
Results show that novice and expert security screeners primarily access perceptual
knowledge and experience little difficulty during routine situations. During non-routine
situations however, experience was found to be a determining factor for effective interactions and problem solving. Experts were found to use strategic knowledge and demonstrated structured use of interface functions integrated into efficient problem solving sequences.
Comparatively, novices experienced more knowledge limitations and uncertainty resulting in interaction breakdowns. These breakdowns were characterised by trial and error interaction sequences.
This research suggests that the quality of knowledge security screeners have access to has
implications on visual and physical interface interactions and their integration into problem solving sequences. Implications and recommendations for the design of interfaces used in the airport security screening context are discussed. The motivations of recommendations are to improve the integration of interactions into problem solving sequences, encourage development of problem scheme knowledge and to support the skills and knowledge of the personnel that interact with security screening systems.

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