W W ee

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Welcome students, I look forward to working with you this semester, check this site frequently for updates and assignments.

~  JON ~
IST 331


Instructional Design

~ IST 331~

Week 2

A history of the human factor
and misconceptions of user behavior

A brief history lesson

  • The Human Factor:
    • British researchers in the early 20th Century looked at how people worked
    • Researchers observed the motions that humans used to do a task and how long it took
    • What was noticed was that the faster and longer someone worked, the more fatigued and ill they get
  • World War II
    • WWII forced men out of factories and into war. Women stepped up and learned the work quickly and volunteered to work long hours. Production declined and there was low morale
    • Britain studied job design and working conditions in what was called “industrial” psychology

How the war changed thingsHow the war changed things

  • Before WWII in Britian
    • Industrial psychology was a term for studies of work environments, people and performance
    • The studies included fatigue research, working conditions and job design.
    • Time and motion studies came under attack for dehumanizing workers in  factories.
  • Before WWII in the US
    • Elton Mayo’s Hawthorne Experiments in Chicago looked at the effects of changing the work environment and monotony on fatigue and motivation
    • Mayo’s observations revolutionized the field of management
  • The Hawthorne Effect
    • Mayo looked at altering work conditions by changing the light levels to see if it made a difference in performance proficiency
    • Initially it appeared there were changes but on a closer look,  he discovered the workers did better not because of the light but because they were being observed
    • Mayo’s observations showed users responded when someone paid attention to them
    • The studies showed the most important factor was psychological rather than physiological
    • Today, this study now applies to any situation where being new or novel causes the success rather than changes in underlying fundamentals
      • EX: A newly designed laptop may be appealing in the beginning, but that is only because attention is being paid to it and the user
      • EX: A new smart board is used in the classroom and appears to be a success. It is only successful because of the attention instructors and students make about it
  • Fitting the person to the job
    • Prof. Alec Rodger coined a slogan that encapsulated the definition of organizational psychology in the 1950s and is still being followed today in some instances. He said:
      • "Fitting the man to the job and the job to the man."
    • Rodger suggested this human job fitting was done in two ways
      • Fitting the man to a job:
        • Occupational guidance
        • Personnel selection
        • Training and Development
      • Fitting the job to the man:
        • Methods of design
        • equiptment design
        • Negotiation of working conditions and physical and social rewards
      • Examples:
        • Fitting the man to the job
          • You enroll in PSU
          • You are given a username and password
          • You are trained to use angel
          • You are givin assitance if needed
          • You fit into the enviornment set up for you at PSU
        • Fitting the job to the man
          • You enroll at PSU
          • You have sight, audio or mobility problems
          • PSU, with its compliance to the Americans with Disabilities Act, works to create an environment to fit the user’s needs
  • The human and the machine
    • Joint Cognitive System (JCS)
      • Humans and machines have to be considered co-agents in interaction
      • The focus of JCS is a functional one, based on what it does rather than on how it is done
    • Cognitive System
      • This system can modify itself to achieve specific needs. It can adapt and control what it does
      • People and machines (or also called artifacts) are recognized as cognitive systems
    • User-centered design
      • this is focusing the user’s needs, carrying out an activity/task analysis as well as testing, evaluation and designing the system
    • Human-centered design
      • focuses on organizational changes, user needs and demands and technical requirements
      • Boundaries need to be set for “technical” and “organizational” tasks
      • This is called socio-technical design
    • Human-computer interaction
      • This is an interest in improving how people interact with computers.
      • Most recent studies are focusing on graphic elements and different types of users (i.e. children vs. adults)
      • This also explores the interfaces and embedded applications such as GPS systems
      • Finally, this looks at social impacts and supporting such interaction
  • What we learned
    • We looked at fitting the environment to the person
    • We learned about the human-centered design philosophy
    • We explored bodies of knowledge about human behavior in systems
    • We learned about how these elements are interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary and international
    • There are constraints and trade-offs with design. To make these trade-offs, there needs to be an understanding of the users and technology
    • Design decisions have consequences for the user’s behavior/performance
    • Errors and mistakes by users may often be circumvented by good design
  • Myths and Facts
    • Myth: "Only Beginers make mistakes"
      • Experts make mistakes also
      • One aspect of being an expert is being able to notice errors and being more able to know how to recover from them
      • Beginners will usually seek out help or walk away if unable to figure out issues
    • Myth: "Smart people can cope with anything"
      • Smart people can learn to cope but the question that must be raised is can smart people cope well enough to like, use and recommend your technology over what they are using now?
        • EX: Why should the college change its front end system when the one they have seems to do everything the facility needs except it runs slower
    • Myth: "Asking a large group of people for help increases your chance of getting it"
      • Large groups are not necessarily more helpful than a single individual
    • Myth: "People can accurately report what the think"
      • Asking people to introspect on how they think has proven to be highly unreliable
      • However, asking them to simply talk out loud while performing a task provides an accurate but incomplete account of the information they are using from which an observer can build a pretty good account of the user’s thought process and behavior
    • Myth: "The outside world causes you stress"
      • Not really. The best theories of stress emphasize how stress arises as a response from the individual to external events – not something intrinsic to the event
        • Ex: Some people are stressed by computers, others are pleased. The computer doesn’t change, the person’s response to the computer does
    • Myth: "It's good to automate a task as much as possible"
      • Again, not really. Automating more of a task can make the task more difficult
        • EX: If automation encourages the user either directly or indirectly to pay less attention to the task until the user has to intervene then it really doesn’t make the task any better
    • Myth: "You know what you don't know"
      • Students using an early computer vocabulary tutor learned 30 percent faster with automatic word learning choices made for them. Without assistance, they were more likely to study the words they knew and were comfortable with already
    • Myth: "Some people feel if the keystroke commands were changed, a keyboard would become unusable"
      • This is not true. Although users do not like it, (which is important) performance would not decrease more than 30 percent for a short period of as day or two
    • Myth: "It needs to be real"
      • There is this belief, the closer the training system is to the real system, the better the learning
      • While pilots like simulators with shiny knobs and dials, the important aspects of learning are how well the underlying cognitive aspects of the task tutor match the task being trained for

  • Why Study Users?
    • Ignoring the user can cause a loss of life
      • Airline travel would be unsafe without the understanding of pilots , the planes and air traffic controllers
      • In medicine, there is the understanding of nurses, doctors, technicians and the machinery and equipment that is used
      • Understanding the user can save lives, money and lead to product success
  • When To study the User?
    • Innovation is the starting point for any system or idea design
    • When there is a single user, the need for interfacing with others is not high
    • When users help create the system, there is a greater need to understand and study the users



REF: http://www.personal.psu.edu/cwc5/blogs/coursedesign/lesson-02-human-factors.html


  • Lesson Objectives

    Human factors work is critical for the successful implementation of information technologies. Unless human characteristics are considered when designing systems, the results can be loss of productivity and resources. Poorly designed interfaces impact performance. Human cognitive capabilities should be considered in the design of a system. Ergonomics and anthropometrics issues appear everyday in the media. The consequences of human factors work are profound.

    After reading this lesson, you should be able to:

    • Identify the characteristics of human factors and human-centered design.
    • Describe anthropometric user characteristics.
    • Identify the characteristics of ergonomics.

    Human Factors


    Information technologies are used in the real world in offices, homes, factories, and industries. Human factors work is concerned with the design, usability, learnability, and functionality of systems designed for human use. Unless human characteristics are considered when designing or implementing technologies, the consequences can be errors and a lack of human productivity. Human factors workers are concerned with important health and safety issues in work environments that include technology.

    Human factors work involves assessing how something is used to see if it can be made quicker, safer, and more productive, looking at mistakes that are made when using technologies to see how they could be prevented, and assessing which tasks can effectively be performed by humans or machines.

    Historically, many technologies have not been designed with users in mind. Many technologies do not fit users' tasks. Technology systems need to be built to effectively support human tasks. Failing to design and develop information technologies with user characteristics in mind can lead to a lack of system functionality, increase in user dissatisfaction, and increase in ineffective work practices. For example, poorly designed and inappropriately placed interfaces in fast-food restaurants, such as McDonald's and Wendy's, can decrease worker efficiency, increase poor customer service, and increase costs for the company.

    Human factors workers examine individual differences in a technology-user's behavior and performance that have design implications. Workers with human factors training understand the importance of looking at both people and systems, as they work together. Information technology must account for human levels of attention, learning, communication styles, and memory. For example, in fast food restaurants, workers enter the customer orders into the computer. Direct customer ordering through touch screen can lead to more accurate orders and fewer errors. Examples of this are the MTO (Made-To-Order) screens in Sheetz convenience stores and the self-checkout screens at some supermarkets.

    Human factors workers integrate knowledge from multiple disciplines to design better technologies. Research from engineering, anthropology, sociology, social psychology, mathematics, cognitive psychology, and linguistics is used in human factors work. Human factors work and research involves the collection of the data and the evaluation of different designs. The following factors affect design - physical, perceptual, cognitive, social, and historical. The results of human factors work are important and applied in many different industries and work environments, such as the design of computers, cars, airplanes, industrial machinery, military vehicles, office environments, consumer products design, and manufacturing. An example is designing a car for safety with the goal of limiting passenger injury in a crash. These designs need to be tested. How human factors work is used in organizations depends upon the available time and resources, the system that is being designed, and the intended users.

    Some related links:

    Human Cognitive Capabilities

    Human factors workers must also take account of human cognitive capabilities, such as memory, attention, and learning ability that vary between users. Humans have four types of memory: iconic, short-term, working, and long-term.

    1. Iconic memory: This very short term memory includes images left in memory when a user closes their eyes.
    2. Short-term memory: A temporary memory store where information decays over time.
    3. Working memory: A temporary memory store that includes refreshing or reusing the information.
    4. Long-term memory: A memory that is permanently encoded with longer more permanent memories.
    5. In addition, memory can be classified as declarative memories that include facts or statements about the world and procedural memories that are used to perform procedures. More specifically, implicit memories are not reportable and explicit memories can be reported. Human factors workers must also consider human learning abilities and how to design information technologies to support different learning styles.

    Human factors workers must keep human limitations in mind when they are designing technologies. For example, if a person needs to enter a phone number in their Contacts, they store the number in short term memory. The short term memory limitation is generally "five plus or minus two" items, just enough for the typical US phone number.

    Human cognitive capabilities should be considered in the design of a system. For example, human cognitive capabilities should be considered in the design of a web search history application, so that when the user is searching the web and they use the search history to help them remember what they previously had searched, the results are successful. Human factors work influences the design of systems. An example is the navigation system in a car assisting the user in successfully reaching their destination.

    Human factors workers are concerned with vital issues in the technology workplace. Human limitations, the shape of the human body, and how the shape of the human body influences the design of systems must be considered. If industries, including airlines and nuclear power plants, do not consider human factors issues, then the public's safety is jeopardized.


    Now that you have completed this lesson, you should be able to:

    • Identify the characteristics of human factors and human-centered design.
    • Describe anthropometric user characteristics.
    • Identify the characteristics of ergonomics.

    Additional Human Factors Reading:

    Norman, D. (1988). The psychology of everyday things. NY: Basic Books.