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Human Factors Engineering

Full Course Agenda

Key Information

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Remote Delivery
In-person/Live(not offered in this format in 2020)

Week 1

The first week of the course focuses on human factors concepts, offering a broad survey of human factors and topics important to designers and researchers.


Introduction to Human Factors Engineering
  • What is the history of HFE and how has it evolved?
  • What names are used to identify what we do?
  • What does human factors matter?
  • What does human factors have in common with other fields of endeavor?
  • What do human factors specialists do?
  • What societies are associated with human factors work?
  • What are some primary journals and standards for our profession?
Human Visual Functions
  • How is light measured?
  • What are the optical components of the eye?
  • How do we see color?
  • Rods and cones: the 8 elements of duplicity theory
  • Eye movements and what they mean
  • Failures of vision
Visual Displays
  • Why are visual displays important?
  • What makes visual displays easy to use?
  • When should auditory and visual displays be used?
  • What kinds of visual displays are there?
  • Which kinds of displays are best for various tasks?
  • How should displays be arranged?
  • What are desired characteristics for individual displays?
Advanced Displays
  • What are the costs and benefits of color in displays?
  • How should maps and spatial displays be designed (including size and clutter)?
  • How should supervisory displays be designed?
  • What do we know about information visualization?
  • How should head mounted displays be designed?
  • What do we know about virtual reality displays?


Engineering Anthropometry
  • Traditional techniques for measuring human body size, strength, and range of motion
  • 3D and other techniques
  • Analysis of anthropometric data (human variation, sampling, statistics)
  • Data bases and software for human accommodation
Skills, Motor Behavior, and Manual Controls
  • Fittss Law and the control of discrete movements to small targets
  • Models and theories of continuous tracking
  • Rhythmic pattern generation
  • How can controls be categorized and what are some examples?
  • What should be considered when selecting controls?
  • Which control is best and for what?
  • How should individual controls be coded?
  • Why are mice often best for desktop work?
  • Are there better keyboards than QWERTY?
  • Which widget is best for various tasks?
  • What kinds of controls do people prefer?
  • How should user performance with controls be measured?


Occupational Biomechanics I
  • What kinds of musculoskeletal disorders occur?
  • How can ergonomics prevent them?
  • What are the occupational biomechanics of the spine, shoulder, elbow, and hand/wrist?
  • How does one use the Washington State job analysis tool?
Occupational Biomechanics II
  • What are some common job analysis tools (checklists, lifting analysis, computer models, field instrumentation, guidelines for tool selection)?
  • Interventions to reduce injuries
  • The economics of ergonomics
Situation Awareness
  • What is situation awareness?
  • What theory supports this concept?
  • What are the design requirements for situation awareness?
  • What are design principles for situation awareness?
  • How is situation awareness measured?


Introduction to Human-Systems Integration
  • What is the DOD development process?
  • What is human-system integration?
  • What are the steps in the Human-Systems Integration process?
  • What tools are available to support Human-Systems Integration?
  • What are some important performance measures?
Manual / Nonmanual Task Analysis
  • Time study
  • Activity sampling
  • Predetermined time systems
  • Key references


Perception, Memory, and Cognition
  • What are some lessons from the USS Vincennes incident?
  • What are the stages of human information processing, and how do they affect comprehension?
  • What is selective attention and how does it work?
  • How do we support human performance?
Decision Making & Cognitive Task Analysis
  • What are some models of human decision making?
  • What are some common biases (fixation/anchoring, confirmation, salience/availability, overconfidence, framing) and how do they affect decision making?
  • What is hierarchical task analysis?
Human Error and Safety
  • What are the approaches to safety?
  • What are the causes and consequences of errors?
  • Models of mishaps
  • Root cause analysis
  • Human error in healthcare surgical errors

Saturday Morning

Inclusive Design
  • How does aging affect human performance?
  • What is a disability and how does one comply with federal regulations such as ADA and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act?
  • What is inclusive design and how is it accomplished?
  • What are good design principles for older adults?
Experimental Design and Analysis
  • What research design is appropriate for various questions?
  • What measures should be considered?
  • What statistical analysis techniques are available?
  • What guidelines should be followed for the treatment of human subjects?

Week 2

Week two presents an overview of major topics and issues in human-computer interaction (HCI) and intelligent system design, along with mini-workshops and seminars on selected principles, methods, and procedures that provide the foundation for effective HCI systems and web application design.


Trends in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)
  • What does HCI study?
  • What are the people, task, and technology trends?
  • How does innovation occur?
  • What are the display trends?
  • Location and activity aware computing
Collaborative and Social Computing
  • What is computer-supported cooperative work?
  • What is the intellectual framework for this topic?
  • What are some applications?
  • What are some key research findings?
Website Interface Design
  • Who uses the web, and who are the users?
  • What hardware and software do people use to access the web?
  • Which sites are visited most often and what do people do? (Tasks)
  • What are some web-specific design problems and how can they be solved?
  • How should websites be designed?
  • How can websites be automatically evaluated?
  • How is use of the web likely to change in the future?
  • What are some useful resources?
Usability Testing
  • What are the steps in conducting a usability test?
  • At each step, what should one do and not do?
  • What are some key references on usability testing?


Introduction to the Keystroke-Level Model (KLM) and KLM Problem
  • Why model user performance?
  • What are the elements in the Keystroke-Level Model?
  • How can task times be predicted using KLM?
  • Note: Students will compute the solutions to KLM problems in class
Model Human Processor and Problem
  • What are the elements in the Model Human Processor?
  • How can task times be predicted using the Model Human Processor?
  • Note: Students will compute the solutions to Model Human Processor problems in class
Software Human Factors in the Product Development Cycle
  • Prescriptivism
  • Agile development
  • Task-centered design


Methods for Evaluating User Interfaces
  • Heuristic evaluation
  • Cognitive walkthrough
  • Thinking aloud
  • Real world testing
Cost-Benefit Analysis for HCI
  • User-centered design
  • What is usability worth?
  • Hypothetical case study
  • Metrics for cost-benefit
  • Calculating ROI
  • Horror studies
Speech Interface Design and Evaluation
  • How is sound measured?
  • When and why should speech interfaces be used?
  • Who are the users of speech interfaces?
  • What are the key terms used to describe dialogs?
  • How is speech interface performance measured?
  • How can user performance with speech interfaces be modeled and predicted?
  • What are some accepted speech dialog design guidelines?
Requirements Engineering
  • How do you define and document requirements in the engineering design process?
  • What are the applications?


  • What is workload?
  • Why measure workload?
  • How can workload be measured?
  • How can workload be analyzed?
  • How can workload be reduced?
  • Where is there more information on workload?
  • Why automate?
  • What are the levels of automation?
  • What are the problems of automation?
  • What are the ironies of automation?
  • 5 principles of human-centered design


Responsibilities of the Usability Professional
  • For yourself
  • For your organization/employer
  • How do you get human factors work done?
  • Why is getting human factors work done so difficult?
Environmental Ergonomics
  • Heat
  • Vibration and motion
  • Sound and noise

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