A web-based feedback study on optimization-based training and analysis of human decision making

Michael Engelhart, Joachim Funke, Sebastian Sager


The question “How can humans learn efficiently to make decisions in a complex, dynamic, and uncertain environment” is still a very open question. We investigate what effects arise when feedback is given in a computer-simulated microworld that is controlled by participants. This has a direct impact on training simulators that are already in standard use in many professions, e.g., for flight simulators for pilots, and a potential impact on a better understanding of human decision making in general.

Our study is based on a benchmark microworld with an economic framing, the IWR Tailorshop. N=94 participants played four rounds of the microworld, each 10 months, via a web interface. We propose a new approach to quantify performance and learning, which is based on a mathematical model of the microworld and optimization. Six participant groups receive different kinds of feedback in a training phase, then results in a performance phase without feedback are analyzed. As a main result, feedback of optimal solutions in training rounds improved model knowledge, early learning, and performance, especially when this information is encoded in a graphical representation (arrows).


decision making, complex problem solving, optimization, mixed-integer nonlinear programming

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11588/jddm.2017.1.34608

URN (PDF): http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:bsz:16-jddm-346089


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Copyright (c) 2017 Michael Engelhart, Joachim Funke, Sebastian Sager