2021 Applied Cognitive Ergonomics

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Academic unit or major
Graduate major in Industrial Engineering and Economics
Aoki Hirotaka  Gu Xiuzhu 
Class Format
Media-enhanced courses
Day/Period(Room No.)
Mon3-4()  Thr3-4()  
Course number
Academic year
Offered quarter
Syllabus updated
Lecture notes updated
Language used
Access Index

Course description and aims

This course aims at obtaining knowledge and basic skills about the discipline called cognitive ergonomics, their approaches and applications to actual design of human-machine systems, work systems and organisations. Among various human factors and functions that ergonomics try to solve, this class focuses on cognitive aspects of human attitudes, behaviours and actions, and explores applications of their cognitive ergonomic approaches, methods and techniques to actual design and evaluation of human-machine systems and organisational issues. Contents covered in this class are largely divided into three areas, for which some case studies are included: (1) Introduction to human factors and ergonomics, (2) Human-machine interaction and usability, (3) Organisational design for safety. In this class, in addition to lectures, some group assignments (+ presentation and discussion) will be made concerning some specific topics for better understanding of ergonomic concepts and approaches. Simple questions – just one-page answer required – will be also given every week in the end of lecture for the same purpose.

Student learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
1. Explain ergonomic thinking, approache, methods/techniques, and their applications to real-world issues, e.g., design of human-machine systems based on human cognitive aspects.
2. Explain basic concepts, approcahes to, and methods and techniques for human error and risk management, and perform their applications to real-world organisational problems.


Human-machin system, user-centred design, usability engineering, human error, risk management, safety culture, and resilience engineering

Competencies that will be developed

Specialist skills Intercultural skills Communication skills Critical thinking skills Practical and/or problem-solving skills

Class flow

In each class, fundamentals of related topics, approaches, methods and techniques will be lectured. Small quiz and discussion related to issues or topics will be performed for their better understandig. In addition, group work will be made twice to enhance students' appication of ergonomic skills and knowledge to their own problems.

Course schedule/Required learning

  Course schedule Required learning
Class 1 Introduction to Human Factors and Ergonomics (Ergonomic thinking, Purposes, definition and approaches of ergonomics, History of ergonomics, Fields and disciplines related to ergonomics, Roles of ergonomics in modern society) Understand overviews of ergonomics, its principles and basics.
Class 2 Approaches to Human Factors and Ergonomic issues (Problem solving steps for ergonomic issues, Data acquisition, data representation and data analysis, Examples of ergonomic problem solving) Explain the typical methods/approaches and thinking processes used in cognitive ergonomics.ergonomics.
Class 3 Basics of Human-Machine Systems (Human-machine systems and interfaces, Human processing systems: Memory systems and visual systems, Task allocation, Relative benefits of machines and humans, Model representing user behaviour: Norman's model, What is “Gulf of Execution/Evaluation”?) Explain application domains of human-machine sysmtes research and some example cases.
Class 4 Design approaches to systems/product development (Definition of User-Centred Design (UCD), UCD processes and key activities (by ISO), Principles ensuring design processes to be user centred, Supporting tools for UCD: Scenario-based design and Cooper's Persona approach) Explain user-centred design processes and methods included in the processes, roughly.
Class 5 Eye-tracking applications to HMI issues (Physiology/Psychology of Human Eyes, History of eye tracking researches, Two types of eye tracking applications: Diagnostic and Interactive applications, Examples of eye tracking applications in HMI) Explain eye tracking for cognitive task analysis and its applications.
Class 6 Basics of Usability (Two definitions of usability (Nielsen and ISO), Nielsen's usability and its attributes, Steps of Usability Engineering, ISO's usability and its attributes, "Small" and "big" usability) Explain two types of definition of usability and typical methodologies included in usability engineering.
Class 7 Evaluation of Usability (Methods for design and evaluation of usability (12 classifications of methods), Criteria for method selection, Prototyping and its dimensions, Example of a rapid and cost effective method (Paper prototyping), New concept in current usability studies (User experience)) Explain practical methods for usability design/evaluation, roughly.
Class 8 Presentation of group work (Product having "problematic" characteristics from ergonomic points of view, Questions & Answers) Gain understandings of the problem identification processes based on ergonomic approach.
Class 9 Safety Management and Safety Management System (SMS) (Definitions of safety management and SMS, Safety policy and objectives, Safety risk management, Safety assurance, Safety promotion) Understand overview of safety management, its princples, approaches and techniques.
Class 10 Human Error and Accident (Accident causes in high risk systems, Nature of human erroneous actions: definition of human error, coping with human errors, Relationships of human errors with accident, Approach to accident analysis) Understand basics of humam errors and their related issues.
Class 11 Risk Management (Mechanisms of making accident, Approaches to accident prevention, Framework of risk management: Error Taxonomy) Apply basic principles on risk management to actual problems.
Class 12 New Approach to Safety Management (Limitations of traditional risk management approach, Trade-off between efficiency and thoroughness, Different perspectives to safety: Safety I vs. Safety II, New approach: Resilience Engineering, Reactive vs. Proactive approach to risk management) Understand pros and cons of traditional approach of risk management; nature od Safety-I and Safety-II; and principles of Resilience Engineering.
Class 13 Safety Culture (Components of "safe" culture, Definition of Safety Culture, Safety culture assessment, Safety culture in healthcare) Understand safety culture and related issues; and apply safety culture assesment toan actual setting.
Class 14 Presentation of group work (Approach to improve safety around you, Discussion) Gain understanding of safety issues and application skills of the risk management based on group work and discussions.

Out-of-Class Study Time (Preparation and Review)

To enhance effective learning, students are encouraged to spend approximately 100 minutes preparing for class and another 100 minutes reviewing class content afterwards (including assignments) for each class.
They should do so by referring to textbooks and other course material.


None required.

Reference books, course materials, etc.

Itoh, Kenji. Ergonomics in highly advanced and matured society (Kou-do Seijuku Shakai no Ningen-Kougaku), Tokyo: Nikka-Giren, (Japanese)
Instruction manuals and course materials are provided during class.

Assessment criteria and methods

Students' knowledge of topics in the lecture, and their ability to apply them to groupworks will be assessed. Short quiz/discussion 50%, groupwork 50%.
Full attendance are compulsory.

Related courses

  • IEE.C202 : Industrial Engineering
  • IEE.C302 : Quality Management
  • IEE.C304 : Ergonomics

Prerequisites (i.e., required knowledge, skills, courses, etc.)

No prerequisites.

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