The objective of the study was to identify the cognitive properties of manual status boards that make them useful to staff in Accident and Emergency Departments (A & E). Naturalistic observations and semi-structured interviews with A & E staff were used. Status boards are the central coordinating artefacts in A & Es. They are densely encoded in idiosyncratic but locally meaningful ways. Because they have been developed by users and have no externally mandated standards, they provide insight into the theories of work held by the workers themselves, in contrast to the theories that might be held by managers or designers. The study of user-developed artefacts is a useful method for gaining insights into a complex field of practice that might otherwise by obscure. Efforts to standardize or computerize such artefacts offer some benefits, but also risk losing latent properties that might be important to safe or efficient working.
- Cognitive artefacts
- Communication and coordination
- Shared cognition