Human Factors Engineering (HFE)

The whole course (100% lectures) is available via Internet as Digital Teaching Tools.

Each Digital Teaching Tool consists of:
• a video-based lecture (Flash Player, if you do not have this software, Digital Teaching Tool offer it automatically version free of charge)
• the slides shown during the lecture (PDF format, Digital Teaching Tool offer it automatically Acrobat Reader version free of charge)
• some written material for student reading and student self-tests
• a MP3 audio version of the lecture (MP3 format)

Human Factors Engineering (HFE) or Engineering Psychology is the discipline of applying what is known about human capabilities and limitations to the design of products, processes, systems, and work environments. Human Factors Engineering (HFE) deals with the design of systems that people use at work and in leisure. It ensures that systems, jobs, products, interfaces and environments are designed to match the physical and mental abilities and limitations of their intended users. HFE is the key factor in ensuring the effectiveness, safety, usability, acceptability and success of human-machine-system integrations. It is therefore, important for engineers to understand the capabilities and limitations of the users, such that systems are designed to enhance the performance and safety of the users.

We welcome you to the 21st century and digital epoch!

The seminars will be organise as ordinary face-to-face seminars at university.

Course content


1st Lecture: INTRODUCTION; Human Factors Engineering (HFE) or Engineering Psychology; Engineering Psychology; Demand-resource theory in Engineering Psychology; Cognitive Psychology; Stimulus and Response; Cognitive Theory; Engineering; Human Factors Science or Human Factors Technology; Human Factor; Human Factors Integration; Macro-ergonomics; Summary.



2nd Lecture: Mental Processes: SENSATION: Sensory processing; Sensory thresholds; Vision; Hearing; Smell and taste; the body senses. Mental Processes: PERCEPTION: Organizing stimuli into patterns; a Rubin Vase; Pattern and object recognition; Filter theory; Person’s perception and stereotypes; Law of constancy; Size constancy; Color constancy; Perception of time; Color vision; Müller-Lyer illusion; the visual cliff; illusions; Human capabilities and limitations: Capacity of perception; Visual sensory systems; the stimulus - light; Color sensation; Some variables that affect contrast and visibility; Contrast; Visual search and object detection; Bottom-up versus top-down processing; Target prediction inducing parallel search; Human factors implications for system designer.



3rd Lecture: Mental Processes: ATTENTION: Classifications of attention; Non- volitional attention; The main reasons for non- volitional attention; Volitional attention; Overt attention; Covert attention; Executive attention; The qualities of attention: Focused attention; Sustained attention; Selective attention; Alternating attention; Divided attention; Attention span. Mental Processes: MEMORY: Classifications of memory; The three-stage memory model; Sensory memory; Short-term memory (STM); Long-term memory (LTM); Operative memory; Working memory; Levels of processing; Organization; Distinctiveness; Effort; Elaboration; Classification by information type: Declarative memory; procedural memory; Topographic memory; Shape memory; Forgetting; Association; Serial position effect; Amnesia: clinical and psychological; Human factors implications for system designer.



4th Lecture: Mental Processes: EMOTIONS: Emotion; Categorization of emotions; Cognitive theories of emotions; Scheme of emotional state; Emotional expressions; Computer generated prototypes of facial expressions of emotions; Example of physiology of emotions; Perceptual theory of emotions; Affective events theory; Two-factor theory of emotions; Bipolar state of emotions; Asthenical emotions. Control theory. Locus of control. Mental Processes: MOTIVATION: Intrinsic; Extrinsic; Homeostatic model of motivation; Incentive model of motivation; Motivation as a process; Theories of motivation; Maslow hierarchy of needs; The needs of employees; Choice theory; Ten Axioms of Choice Theory; Herzberg’s two-factor theory; Need for Achievement (N-Ach); Intrinsic motivation and the 16 basic desires theory.



5th Lecture: Mental Processes: THINKING: Thinking; Reasoning and formal logic base of thinking; Problem solving; Kepner-Tregoe technique; the principles of problem solving; Decision making; Problem analysis versus Decision making; Rational, emotional, intuitive decision making; If-then plan; Rationalization; Mental Processes: INTELLIGENCE: Intelligence; Genetics and environmental component in intelligence; Genetics and IQ; Theories of intelligence; IQ - Intelligence Quotient; Examples of methods: Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) and Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices; Estonian children’s IQ research; IQ and population; IQ scores; IQ and Gender; Emotional Intelligence (EI); Ability-based EI model; Mixed models of EI; Bar-On model of Emotional-Social Intelligence (ESI); Trait EI model; IQ and EQ; Practical Intelligence PI; Triarchic Model; IQ-EQ-PQ; Mensa International; Artificial intelligence AI.



6th Lecture: STRESS: Stress at work; Fight and flight reaction; Definition of work related stress; Stimulus-response stress reaction; Karasek’ Model of Stress; CISMS Model of Stress; Estonian Occupational Stress Study; Organizational Health Framework; Psycho-Social Risk Factors Indicator (OHI-2); Coping with stress; Stages of stress and the first aid; Coping strategies: Goal setting, Problem solving, Correction of A-type behavior (workaholic), Internality, Personality balance, Social support, Work / life balance, Role conflict solving, Self-management: time management, personal financial resources management, emotional management, Self-esteem, Quality of life. WORKLOAD: Work overload and work underload; Demand – resource concept; Relation between workload imposed by task; Workload definition; Wickens’ theory of workload; Occupational stressor for technology professionals; The classical model of workload: Load and capacity model; The effort-recovery model; Work demands; Work potential; Decision latitude; Negative aspects of workload.



7th Lecture: HUMAN – MACHINE (COMPUTER) INTERACTION: Human-machine model; Human-machine systems; Allocation of functions; Human-computer interaction; Human-computer interface; Human error; Human reliability; Categories of human error; Examples of human error; Human to human/group interaction; Communication; Perception of information; Information impartation; Common mistakes in communication; Communicational skills; Methods of official communication.



8th Lecture: SOCIAL FACTORS Social factors; Social systems; Economic models; Social indicators; Three types of social factors; Relations between indicators; Collective memory; Macro-ergonomics; Red-line conflict; Groups and teams; Purposes and benefits of usage of teams; Team building; Synergy; Team building A, B, C; Teams’ dynamics; Virtual teams; Toolsets for virtual workers; From learning to knowledge management; Knowledge location; Human and social factors in knowledge management; Pro the summary of HFE course.


SEMINARS • 1st seminar: 20 May. 17.15 - 19.10 room X-424
Mental processes (attention, memory, creativity etc.): self-tests and practical exercises

• 2nd seminar: 27 May. 17.15 - 19.10 room X-424
Social factors – communication exercises and video feedback

STUDENT READING • Phillips, C.A., Human factors Engineering (2005). John Wiley & Sons Inc., 564 p., USA
• Wickens, C.D., Lee, J.D., Liu Y., Gordon-Baker, S. (2004). Introduction to Human Factors Engineering, 2-nd Ed., Pearson Prentice Hall.

EXAMINATION Case study (as your homework)
The purpose of the examination is to maximize the critical thinking skills of students and teach them practical problem solving in the field of human factors and decision-making skills.

Case study (as your homework)
Compose one case study from everyday work practice of engineers and analyze the human factor component in particular case e.g.
1) find out a concrete case from engineering practice
2) describe the situation (What? When?)
3) analyze the case with using and highlighting your knowledge from Human Factors Engineering course (Why?)
* Please, do not mention the real name of the company and person(s)
Max: 2 – 3 pages (A4 format)
The case study should be sent to professor Mare Teichmann via e-mail:

E-coaching: Professor Mare Teichmann, Tallinn University of Technology, Department of Industrial Psychology
or Skype: mare teichamnn
or TTU room X-334