Job can be defined as a social activity where an individual or a group of people put in some effort during a specific time and space , with the expectations of rewards such as salary or wages (Webster . , Buhlungu . & Bezeindeinhout, 2003). Firstly job was done in a pre – capitalist society were people were obliged to work , during those periods they specialized in craftworks such as pottery , and they were no primary cognitive skills required to peform those jobs .
However since the introduction of the factory , some improvements in technology and the rise of Faradism certain cognitive skills were required in order to perform a certain job . Henry ford introduce the idea of convey belts certain cognitive tasks such as information processing , decision making , attention were required to perform a job . So this essay will discuss those primary cognitive tasks required to perform a job as a traffic officer based on the interview I have conducted with someone who is working as a traffic officer .
Secondly it will discuss the cognitive limitations placed by those cognitive required task (information processing , decision-making, attention ,stress etc) . Lastly it will provide solutions on how mental workload , divided attention and stress can be avoided . The primary goal of the licensing department as a whole is to deliver services to the members of public , in the form of driver licensing and motor vehicle registrations . So being employed at the motor vehicle registration section one is responsible of handling the motor vehicle registration and licensing duties.
The main primary goal of this job is to examine all the files processed by the cashier and all other people involved in the process of registering the vehicles . The primary goal of being a traffic officer is to detect any fraudulent registration which may have occurred , to check if all necessary documents required were all submitted and to check if there were any errors in any registration or licensing of any motor vehicle . There are no tertiary qualifications associated with being the license officer , but there are skills and knowledge which serves as minimum requirements or necessary requirements .
Since the use of computer is a permanent feature in this job , computer literacy and a good typing skills serves as relevant knowledge , communications skills are also an added advantages . High level employee are subject to internal job evaluation. Those with outstanding performance are identified and are given the opportunity to attend the course organised by department of transport , which are in line with the road traffic act of 1996 . In order to acquire skills needed to perform in this job all three memory processes must be applied .
As Wickens and other theorist put it , that memory process refers to what must occur or done in order to store information into the memory or retrieving those information from stored into the memory . Information can be stored as either working or long term (Colosky, 2001 ) Working memory can be defined as temporary memory because it store information which must be applied as soon as possible . Most theories such as Miller (1956) proposed that short term memory can hold up to seven chunking , meaning that information exceeding will be impossible to retrieve .
So in order to make it easy for employee to retrieve information stored into the working memory , the management try as hard as possible to reduce too much chunking . If those chunking cannot be eliminated the process of retrieving will not function at its best , and this will resulted into what is known as forgetting (Colosky, 2001 ). So in order to remove the problem of forgetting those chunks must be eliminated or shortened so that it can be easy for employee to rehearse those information stored in their working memory .
After the successful storage of the information into the working memory , the information is then passed to the long term memory which refers to a process of storing information over a long period of time (Colosky , 2001 ). There are three most important factors to be addressed firstly in order for the information to be stored in the long term memory , encoding should take place wether in the form of learning or training . The second process is the one of storage .
As Sternberg (1996 ) put it that “information is stored in our long term memory in some type of associative network” . As a license officer long term memory is used as in the form of spatial versus visual . The last and most important memory process is known as retrieval or getting the information out of the long term memory . The process of retrieving is one of the most difficult memory process because it has certain limitations , the first one being that information can be incorrectly stored into the long term memory (Wickens, Gordon & Liu ,1998) .
As a traffic officer long term memory plays a crucial part because of the fact that technology has limitations on this job . The first one being that the computer can loose network at all times , so the employee must not rely mainly on the computer . So because of those limitations placed by technology on this job workers must be encouraged to use information regularly in order to develop skills independent of computers . Wickens et all (1998) proposed that encouraging regular use of information will make it easier for information to be stored in the long term memory .
Secondly the process must be designed easy so that confusion can be eliminated (Wickens et all 1998 ) Technology plays a good role an this job , one important tool which the job cannot ne performed without is a computer terminal . All the computers used at the motor vehicle registration department are connected to the national traffic information system . The main terminal is located in Pretoria and all the licensing and traffic department in all nine province of south Africa . As I have discussed above that technology has certain limitations on this job .
Firstly as a traffic officer one has to use computer and sometimes computers can loose network or electrical current problems may occur . Because of the fact that the equipment is operated by the electricity one has to option if this happen and after the event debriefing must happen as soon as possible . Being a traffic officer require one to make important decisions , by monitoring different files one encounter some errors and those errors require the traffic officer to make some important decisions .
Sometimes one find it difficult because some of the people who make errors are holding higher position than yours . So it sometimes become awkward to go to those people who hold higher positions and pointed out their mistakes , so as a traffic officer one is faced with a lot of responsibility in making those decisions . The second point to be considered is the concepts of attention , which refers to how the employee distinguish between important and unimportant task . There are four kinds of attention known as selective attention, focused attention , sustained attention and divided attention .
I will only discuss divided attention because the person I interviewed was doing two or more jobs as the same time . Divided attention can be defined as the situation where the employee is required to perform two tasks at the same time (Brown, Tichner & Simmonds 1969). As a traffic officer one is expected to deal with the queries from the member of the public and his / her colleague . So a traffic officer is required to deal with telephone enquiries from the members of the public , while doing the task of monitoring files .
Doing this divided task between telephone enquiries and monitoring files will cause either telephone task or file monitoring task to decline (Brown at all ,1969 ) . This process of divided attention can be improved my making the task identical . So in term of traffic officer is won’t be easy he has to use auditory , verbal (telephone ) and visual (computer ). This will create more competitions for the limited resources and unsuccessful time – sharing . (Wickens at all 1998) .
However there are certain factors which can influence time sharing to be possible , the first one being the ability to design identical tasks . (Wickens , 1992 ) In order to eliminate the difficulties associated with rehearsing information , certain items or even time required to rehears those information must be reduced “Minimise confusability – items will be more difficult to remember in their correct sequence in working memory if they are similar “(www. wits. ac. za/psyc212 p3) Wickens (1998) as cited on www. wits. c. za /psyc212 proposed that workers must be encouraged to use the information regularly , and this will make it easier for information stored in the long term memory to be retrieved. The work process should also be designed in a easy way in order for confusion to be eliminated . Secondly in order to eliminate experiencing difficulties with rehearsal employee must be allowed to reproduce the information required to perform the job . (Wickens et all ) By reproducing I mean that employee must use their own words .
The last factor associated with being a traffic officer is stress , as I have discuss that traffic officers are required to perform two or more tasks at the same times . Certain attention is required in order to perform all tasks . For the traffic officers divided attention is the primary cause of stress . Stress can be defined as an adaptive responses mediated by individual characteristics and psychological process that is a consequences of external action , situation or even that place special physical and psychological demands upon a person (Atkinson , 1988).
Atkinson aknowledge that people are unique , each with different life experience that have moulded disparate attitudes , values and personality-type . Some people are therefore more predisposed to stress than others (Atkinson,1988) . The adaptive response refers to how an individual cope with stress . It may an compass a variety of behaviour activities , some people may respond to feeling of stress by smoking or drinking . As Atkinson(1988) put it that stress puts both physical and psychological demands on a workers , e. workers may have sleep deprivation due to the time pressure and anxiety one may feel as each work deadline approaches. Murph (1988) as cited in south Africa at work proposed that stress can be controlled into three ways namely primary , secondary and tertiary. However for according to my understanding of job I can say that I don’t agree with Murph , his ideas can only work in a n ordinary people not people who are working , so for me I think the way to control workplace stress lies in the hands of management .
Management imposed too much pressure on employees . The employee should inform their employer of their work overload so that employee can extent deadlines. Secondly employer must make sure that their employee are taking regular breaks, relaxation techniques such as meditation are the best way to reduce stress . In addition to this I think there are other simple things that managers could do to reduce stress amongst employee. Firstly they can educate their staff or workers about the benefits of regular exercise and having a healthy balanced diet.
Secondly the most efficient way to really avoid stress and its consequences is to talk about it. The above essay has discussed mental tasks required to perform a job as a traffic officer . It has found out that in order to perform there are certain education and cognitive tasks requirements . Firstly attention is required as s form of divided attention . Because of the fact that traffic officers perform two or more tasks at the same time they must divide their attention in order to meet demand of both tasks .
Srcondly as a traffic officer information has to be stored in the long term memory and this be done by encouraging workers to use those information on a daily basis so that they can become familiar with those information required to perform a task . The last thing I have discussed is the issue of stress; it has become clear to me that doing divided attention can produce stress and mental workload . Also I brought up the idea that stress can be easily controlled if management is largely involved.