Assisting People to Become Independent Learners in the Analysis of Intelligence by Peter Pirolli

Office of Naval Research

The purpose of this project was to conduct applied research with exemplary technology to support post-graduate instruction in intelligence analysis. The first phase of research used Cognitive Task Analysis (CTA) to understand the nature of subject matter expertise for this domain, as well as leverage points for technology support. Results from the CTA and advice from intelligence analysis instructors at the Naval Postgraduate School lead us to focus on the development of a collaborative computer tool (CACHE) to support a method called the Analysis of Competing Hypotheses (ACH). We first evaluated a non-collaborative version of an ACH tool in an NPS intelligence classroom setting, followed by an evaluation of the collaborative tool, CACHE at NPS. These evaluations, along with similar studies conducted in coordination with NIST and MITRE, suggested that ACH and CACHE can support intelligence activities and mitigate confirmation bias. However, collaborative analysis has a number of trade-offs: it incurs overhead costs, and can mitigate or exacerbate confirmation bias, depending on the mixture of predisposing biases of collaborators.