Fall 2014


Instructor:  Dr. Steven Kass, Professor

Office:  Bldg 41, Room 253

Phone:  (850) 474-2107

Web Site:


Office Hours: TBD

Class Meets:  Tuesdays & Thursdays, 4:00 pm to 5:15 pm.

Location:  Bldg 41, Room 134


Reading Materials



Wickens, C. D., Lee, J. D., Liu, Y., & Becker, S. E. G. (2004).  An Introduction to Human Factors Engineering, 2nd Edition, Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Casey, S. (1998).   Set Phasers on Stun and Other True Tales of Design, Technology, and Human Error, 2nd Edition, Santa Barbara, CA: Aegean Publishing Company.

Additional readings from issues of Ergonomics in Design (included as PDFs). Graduate students will be expected to contribute to discussion of outside reading assignments.



Norman, D. A. (1990).   The Design of Everyday Things. New York, NY: Doubleday Publishing.

Vicente, K. (2004).  The Human Factor: Revolutionizing the Way People Live with Technology. New York, NY: Routledge

Casey, S. (2006). The Atomic Chef: And Other True Tales of Design, Technology, and Human Error. Santa Barbara, CA: Aegean Publishing Company.


Course Description: This course is recommended for psychology students interested in seeing how the principles of their study apply to work design, or for students of computer science and other disciplines who would like to learn about the human user/operator side of a system. This course is intended as a survey of the field of human factors psychology. Specifically, the principles of psychology from various specialty areas (e.g., cognitive, experimental, industrial/organizational, physiological) will be applied to the study of human performance in work settings. Students will learn how work is designed to capitalize on cognitive and physical capabilities and compensate for limitations of humans. Students will also become familiar with the tools and techniques that human factors psychologists use to study human-machine interaction and work design. Students will never view their own experiences with modern technology in the same way, as they will gain an appreciation for the capabilities and limitations of humans in human-machine systems.


Learning Outcomes:


Upon successful completion of this course students will be able to:


·         Apply the principles of psychology (e.g., human physiology, behavior, and cognition) to the understanding and design of everyday work activities (assessed via exam);

·         Use the methodologies and tools of the human factors discipline to analyze, critique, and solve problems associated with human-machine interaction (assessed via exam);

·         Develop (conceptually) user-friendly human-machine interfaces (assessed via design project).

In addition Graduate students will be able to:

·         Design and/or critique human-machine designs using knowledge of the human senses (e.g., visual, auditory, vestibular) (assessed via design project).

·         Select and apply the relevant scientific literature and professional guidelines to support the analysis, critique, and re-design of flawed interfaces (assessed via design project).

·         Identify, describe, apply, and concisely communicate in writing the appropriate psychological principles in the critique of accident investigation case studies (assessed via case study reports).

·         Summarize, integrate, and orally communicate academic and professional literature in the field of human factors (assessed via oral presentations).




Exams: Three in-class exams, each containing 50 multiple-choice questions covering the assigned readings and lectures. Absolutely no makeup exams will be given without prior arrangements!


Design Project: Students will find, photograph, and describe a system or systems that they believe to have design flaws. Each student will create a presentation that describes 5 different ways in which the current product is not consistent with human-centered design (e.g., violates human factors principles, requires skills/perception outside of human capability) and propose how the design can be improved (DO NOT simply show a picture of a better designed product). Use YOUR OWN examples. The findings will be provided as hardcopy and electronic (PowerPoint is suggested).  If color is important to your presentation, make sure that you print in color.  Projects will be graded based on use of correct human factors terminology, identifying and connecting problems and solutions with correct principles, theories, techniques, etc., clarity of presentation, originality, and overall quality (i.e., aesthetics, free of typos and grammatical errors).

Click here for my own personal example of a bad design or visit the Bad Designs Website.  Here is an example of a previous  student's project.


Graduate students are required to provide support for their analyses and design recommendations using the appropriate human factors research literature (minimum of 10 citations).  That is, specific recommendations should be supported through analysis, measurement, data, or research findings.  (E.g., DO NOT simply state that something is difficult to see, tell me what the correct size, shape, color, viewing distance, etc. should be based on published guidelines, measurements, or empirical research findings).


Case Studies:  All students (graduate and undergraduate) should be prepared to discuss the readings from the Casey book during class time.


Graduate students are required to write one page case studies for each selected reading in the Casey book.  These readings involve historical accounts of infamous accidents and catastrophes where investigations have shown them to be caused by violations of human factors design principles. Students will describe how violations of human factors design principles (from the related Wickens et al. text book) contributed to these accidents and what could have been done to prevent them (using correct terminology and principles).  Case studies must be turned in on the scheduled date; late assignments will not be accepted.


Course Content:  Human factors is a multidisciplinary subject including aspects of psychology, engineering, and computer science.  However, this course will focus primarily on how psychological principles and theories affect human performance and the design of the human-machine interface. Course topics include information processing, cognitive workload, sustained attention, signal detection, spatial abilities, virtual environments, safety, warnings, displays and controls, decision making, social factors, and stress. The instructor will draw on real world examples of human factors principles and provide demonstrations of human factors tools used in military and civilian research and design settings.


Method of Evaluation:


EXP4250 Undergraduate students will be graded on three exams each worth 25% of your grade (75% total), a design project worth 15%, and homework worth 10%.


EXP5256 Graduate students will be graded on three exams each worth 25% of your grade (75% total), a design project worth 15%, case studies and homework worth 10%.








> 92


90 - 92


87- 89


83 - 86


80 - 82


77 - 79


73 - 76


70 - 72


67 - 69


60 - 66


< 60



This course is included in the Psychology Research Pool (PRP) at UWF, meaning you may also earn ArgoPoints for extra credit in this class by completing research activities. ArgoPoints are research participation credits that will be translated into extra credit at the end of the semester. These activities are designed to enhance your understanding of current psychological research. Sign up for an account for the PRP system at There are 2 options for earning ArgoPoints through the PRP:


Option 1:  Participating in research studies. You can earn ArgoPoints by being a participant in a research study through the PRP. You can find a list of current studies on the PRP webpage at You will earn 1 ArgoPoint for every half hour of participation, and 1 additional point for participating in laboratory studies or for completing multi-session studies. For each ArgoPoint you earn in this course, you will receive 1 point of extra credit. You can earn up to 10 ArgoPoints in this class (or 10 extra credit points) for this course from the PRP. The participation deadline for Fall 2014 is Friday, November 21st.


Option 2:  Reading Psychological Research. You can also earn ArgoPoints by reading and summarizing empirical journal articles. You can find a list of approved articles as well as instructions on how to complete and submit article summaries by logging into the PRP system at To earn credit, you must read 1 of the articles and write a brief paper. All articles must be turned in to the PRP Coordinator (NOT your professor) by 5 pm November 14th.


You may choose to earn ArgoPoints by completing only Option 1, only Option 2, or any combination of both Options 1 and 2. You can track your ArgoPoints online at All PRP related questions should be sent to the PRP Coordinator at



Slide Presentations: Each week's lecture will be in the form of a PowerPoint slide presentation.  To save paper, I recommend you print the slides as handouts 2 or 3 to a page.  I strongly encourage you to print out slides ahead of time and take notes as all materials discussed in class (whether or not it appears on a slide) may appear on the exams.


Classroom Rules:   No spitting, cell phones, texting, or other inconsiderate behaviors during class. You are expected to read all assigned materials before the class in which they are to be discussed.  Please show up to class on-time, every time. See University policies on cheating and disruptive behavior.


Assistance:  If you have a need for any in-class accommodations, or special test-taking arrangements because of physical and/or perceptual limitations, please contact the instructor or the SPBS staff before class begins or as soon as possible.


Tentative Schedule






Case Study



Ergonomics in


Aug 26

Class Introduction





Aug 28

  Introduction to Human Factors




Sep 2





Sep 4

Design and Evaluation Methods



Nyberg & Kempic (2006)

Sep 9


Set Phasers

on Stun

Sep 11

Visual Sensory Systems


Clark, Jackson, & Cohen (1996)

Sep 16

The Price of the Amagasaki

Sep 18




Sep 23

Auditory, Tactile, & Vestibular Systems



National Geographic (2001)

Sep 25

Never Cry


Sep 30

Exam 1



Oct 2



Morphew, Balmer, &

Khoury (2001)

Oct 7



Oct 9

Decision Making


Endsley (1995)

Oct 14

Guest Speaker:  Andy Caputi, Pilot




Oct 16

Business in


Oct 21



Cummings (2003)

Oct 23



Oct 28

Exam 2



Oct 30

Stress and Workload




Nov 4

Return from



Nov 6

Safety, Accidents, and Human Error


Hancock & Hart (2002)

Nov 11

  Veteran’s Day – No class!




Nov 13

Genie in the Bottle


Nov 18

Transportation Human Factors


Brand (1998)

Nov 20

Zzzs in



Nov 25

Training or  Social Factors

18 or 19


Walker & Fisk (1993)

Nov 27

Thanksgiving – No class!




Dec 2

 All Design Projects Due

Graduate Student Presentations


Dec 4

Graduate Student Presentations


Dec 11

Final Exam  2 pm