Master of Science in Industrial Engineering (MSIE)


Industrial Engineering

Document Type



Since 9/11, airport security has become an area of critical national security. The current study investigates the effect of mental rotation training and the presence of visual decision aids on inspection performance. Forty-eight participants were divided into two groups (Group A and Group B) of twenty-four each. Each group was provided with training on visual inspection, baggage screening and on using the software simulation of airport baggage inspection. Participants had to identify from images any object that cannot be allowed on a passenger plane and register a response by clicking one of the buttons, “Threat” or “No Threat”. Participants in Group A were provided with visual decision making aids whereas participants in Group B were provided with none. Upon the completion of the first set of trials, all the participants underwent an advanced training session on mental rotation. The participants then repeated the same experiment as before. There was a significant interaction effect between training and rotation for response time, F(1, 184) = 8.59, p = .0038. Individuals that received no training and had rotated objects performed the worse compared to all other conditions. Response times for images with visual aids improves significantly (F(1, 184) = 20.74, p =0.0001) lower (M = 3.70 seconds, SD = 0.50) when compared to the response times for images after without visual aids (M = 4.03 seconds, SD = 0.53). Accuracy for images without training was significantly (F(1, 184) = 34.23, p < 0.0001) lower (M = 74.73, SD = 10.92) than the accuracy for images after training (M = 83.42, SD = 10.51). Accuracy for images presented without visual aids was significantly (F(1, 184) = 19.58, p < 0.0001) lower (M = 75.86, SD = 11.69) than the accuracy for images presented with visual aids (M = 82.29, SD = 10.51). The results from the experiment show that mental rotation has an effect on inspection performance of an airport baggage inspector and that the performance can be improved by training the inspector in mental rotation. It was also observed that providing visual decision making aids can improve the inspection performance.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Craig M. Harvey