Fall 2006: Course Description for Human Factors Engineering (SYST 470‑01)


Instructor: Dr. Leonard Adelman

            Office: S&T II, Room #325; Phone # 993‑1624; e‑mail: ladelman@gmu.edu

            Office Hours: Wednesdays, 3:30 ‑ 4:15 (or by appointment)



Bailey, R.W. Human Performance Engineering (3rd Ed.). Englewood Cliffs,NJ: Prentice-

   Hall, 1996.


Bazerman, M.H. Judgment in Managerial Decision Making (6th Ed.). NY: Wiley, 2006.


Prerequisite: SYST 301 and STAT 344.


The purpose of this course is to help students design better systems by taking into account the “human” component of the system. Our goal is improved system usability by taking a “user-centered” design orientation. The course focuses on human performance characteristics and limitations.  It includes such topics as perception, cognition, memory, and decision making.  It also includes system design issues for addressing these characteristics and limitations, methodologies for designing the human/computer interface, and tests for improving it during system development.


There is a mid‑term exam, a final exam, and a student project. I use the full grading scale, including pluses and minuses. Each of the two exams is worth 30% of your grade; the student project is worth 20%. The exams will be based on questions that I handout in class. The questions will cover material presented in the texts and class. The exams are closed-book and closed-notes. I will tell you which questions have the highest probability of being on the exams during the review period. I will not review written answers to questions prior to the exams. So, please use the review period to make sure you know the answers to questions that might be on the exams.  Laptops can not be used to take the exams.  


I expect students to read the material for each week’s class before the class so that they can answer questions about it. Since I will use a seminar format, class participation is critical to its successful implementation. Therefore, I will grade class participation after each class session. Please notify me if you are not able to attend class. You are permitted to miss 2 classes, with notification. After that, you will receive a “F” for a missed class session. Class participation is worth 20% of your grade.


The purpose of the student project is to give students an opportunity to apply what they have learned in class to a real world problem. However, the project must involve data collection and analysis, such as conducting an experiment or usability test. Feel free to use material from work and/or other classes. Just make sure that I can clearly see how you are effectively applying what you have learned in this class to your selected problem. The result of the project will be a 15-minute presentation (with viewgraphs) on the last two days of class. Students who present on November 29th will receive 2 additional points. So, a high A presentation could be worth 22 instead of 20 points, which could easily be the difference between a B+ and an A-.



Week 1 (8/30)      Introduction (Bailey, Chap 1)


Week 2 (9/6)       Human Limits & Differences (Bailey, Part 2 Intro & Chaps. 2 & 3)


Week 3 (9/13)     Cognitive Processes & Memory (Bailey, Chaps. 4 & 5)


Week 4 (9/20)      Cognitive Biases (Bazerman, Chaps. 1 & 2)


Week 5 (9/27)      Judgment Under Uncertainty & Motivational Biases (Bazerman, Chs. 3 & 4)

     and Review for Midterm Exam


Week 6 (10/4)      Midterm Exam


Week 7 (10/11)    Guest presentation by Bill Killam, SEOR Dept. adjunct professor and

                             president of User-Centered Design, Inc.


Week 8 (10/18)    Review Midterm and Escalation & Investment Decision Making (Bazerman,

                             Chs. 5 & 7)


Week 9 (10/25)    Improved Decision Making (Bazerman, Ch. 12) and Interface Design (Bailey,

                             Part 3 Intro, & Chap. 7)


Week 10 (11/1)    Usability Testing & Analysis (Bailey, Chaps. 8 & 9)


Week 11 (11/8)    Input & Output Devices (Bailey, Chap. 10)


Week 12 (11/15)   Task Analysis & User Guidance (Bailey, Chaps. 11 & 13)


Week 13 (11/22)   No Class – Thanksgiving Day Recess


Week 14 (11/29)   Student Presentations


Week 15 (12/6)     Student Presentations & Review for Final Exam


Week 16 (12/13)   Final Exam (only on material after the midterm exam)