Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Valerie Shalin (Advisor)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


In the present study I examined the role physical representations play in supporting distributed planning and scheduling. Specifically, I investigated the implications of different representational formats for the production of discourse as well as the later comprehension of text relating to temporal order. In the first part of the study, pairs of participants created schedules for constructing a house with the aid of either a numeric, list format, or a graphical, Gantt chart format. Participants completed the task in a non-collocated fashion, without shared visual access. In the second part of the study, after completing their schedule, the same participants answered a series of true/false statements about the order of events in a house construction schedule. These sentences were presented randomly across the independent variables preposition, syntactic arrangement, semantic constraint, and temporal order (chronological and discourse). This experimental set-up allowed me to examine the effects of prior discourse on both the production of language in a conversational context and the effects of prior discourse on the comprehension of text. My comprehension results demonstrated that features established in the previous literature which impose persistent influences on the cognitive complexity associated with language, such as syntax and iconicity, are sensitive to a pragmatic context. Further, my production results pointed to the discourse situation itself as a source of temporal information, which can provide a context for resolving local ambiguity in propositions relating temporal order. There were no persisting effects of the representational formats on later comprehension; however, results suggested differences in the relationship between linguistic behavior and performance in the context of the two representations. The present research thereby demonstrated the value of using verbal data to assess team performance. The results of this study have implications for basic cognitive science by pointing to contextual influences of discourse and representational format on comprehension generally studied in more isolated contexts.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Psychology

Year Degree Awarded