Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Industrial and Managements Systems Engineering

Committee Chair

Steven Wiker.


This research investigated the impact of age upon learning a manual assembly task in the presence of visual and auditory distractors in males and females ranging in age between 18 and 65 years. Four phases of learning were studied: the number of initial error trials, the number of times the instructional video was watched, the total number of trials needed to complete the experiment, and trial time. Age was only found to be a significant factor for the total number of trials; subjects aged 51--65 took 31% more trials than the younger subjects. Additionally, older subjects who were exposed to the dual distractor condition took 56% more trials than younger subjects who were not exposed to distractors. No main distractor effects were found, but the age x visual distractor was found to be significant for trial time. Older subjects with the visual distractor had 25% slower times than their younger counterparts in the no distractor condition. Auditory distractors were never found to be problematic for any age group or for any phase of learning. However, differences in spatial reasoning significantly mediated age effects and indicate that selection of individuals with significant spatial reasoning skills outweigh detrimental effects of aging when individuals are confronted with learning new psychomotor tasks, such as those studied, in the presence of distractions.