A vast majority of the operating longwall sections use shield-type face supports to provide ground control in the United States. As a co-operative research program between the University of Alabama (UA) and Jim Walter Resources, Inc.(JWR), a joint research program is underway to study interaction of shields with surrounding rock masses. A series of analyses on the response of shields are performed using monitored data at a longwall face in a deep coal mine. In this paper, various effects of parameters, such as leg pressure, setting load, developing load, maximum loading rate, pressure in capsule, and convergence between canopy and base, are discussed and recommended as stability indices. A microcomputer program is being developed for instantaneous interpretation of the shield monitored data, and for giving warnings of potential problems. The preliminary results define the effects of the setting load, developing load, and rate of developing load or leg closure rate. The objective of the study is to understand the shield characteristics and their interaction with surrounding strata in real time, then develop a reliable program for maintaining longwall stability.