Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences

Advisor 1

Elizabeth S. Veinott

Committee Member 1

Shane Mueller

Committee Member 2

Charles Wallace


This thesis describes the development and first demonstration of a new Human Factors method, The Tracer Method, which is a combination of Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA) and Eye Tracking. The study evaluated whether the two methods together produce new and different information than either method alone could provide. The method was tested using a video game, Overwatch, a dynamic, complex, and multiplayer game. The evaluation included: 1. Examining both in the same context (game), 2. Establishing unique contributions of each method alone, and 3. Evaluating overlapping information. Results identified some overlap between the two methods that provided some cross-validation of the data. Cognitive Task Analysis provided higher level strategies and course of actions that players implement during their games, while eye tracking provided visual patterns of search (order of eye movements). However, when combined, the two methods provide strategy information in context that neither method alone can provide. CTA elicits insight into how individuals make decisions and apply previous knowledge, experience, and environmental information. Eye tracking can support this through predictive models of individual’s eye tracking, to understand which elements are utilized in making predictions and situational assessments. We provide a tutorial and insight into best practices for implementation of The Tracer Method. This is the initial development of the new method, and on-going research is validating it in different environments. The Tracer Method is the first combined and documented systematic methodology that utilizes a changing and complicated environment and tests the interaction and output of Critical Decision Method and Eye Tracking.