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WORLD USABILITY DAY---USABILITY PROFESSIONALS ASSOCIATION MINNESOTA CHAPTER & UNIV. OF MINNESOTA---11/10/11. The Ergonomics of Learning The Design and Usability of the Learning Environment Are Key to Student Learning Outcomes. Thomas J. Smith, Ph.D., CHFP Research Associate, Human Factors
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Thomas J. Smith, Ph.D., CHFP
Research Associate, Human Factors
School of Kinesiology
College of Education and Human Development
University of Minnesota
‘Ergonomics/Human Factors (E/HF)’That branch of human science concerned with the interaction of human behavior and performance, and the design of the performance environment‘Educational Ergonomics’That branch of E/HF concerned with the study of how and why student learning is influenced by the design of learning environments
"The main challenge in the science of human learning is to understand the requirements of educational design at all levels“ (K.U. Smith and M.F. Smith (1966). Cybernetic Principles of Learning and Educational Design. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Wilson, p. 478)
(i.e., desks, chairs, backpacks, uniforms, etc.)
(i.e., learning tasks, teaching tasks. etc.)
(i.e., workstation layouts, classroom space designs, etc.)
(i.e., of classrooms, laboratories, libraries, staffrooms, playgrounds, plus physical environmental conditions of noise, lighting, heating/cooling, etc.)
(i.e., curricula, learning/teaching methods & pedagogy, school-day design and scheduling, study/PE schedules, rules, security, departmental structures, governance, policies, etc.)
“Factors of human design long have been ignored in experimental psychology. It has been believed that learning could be studied as a general process.”
(K.U. Smith and M.F. Smith, 1966, p. 1)
“The application of HF/E principles and practices, and the implementation of ergonomics programs, have achieved proven success in improving performance, productivity, competitiveness, and safety and health in most occupational sectors. However, the benefits that the application of HF/E science might bring to promoting student learning have yet to be widely recognized.” (Smith, 2007)
(Mervis, J. (2011). Past successes shape effort to expand early intervention. Science, 333, p. 953)
Classroom Type and General Cognitive Scores on McCarthy’s Scale (N = 75)
Mean General Cognitive Scores
Classroom Type Classroom Rating 1 Classroom Rating 2
3 year olds’ classroom 105.75 80.14
Note: Classroom rating: 1 = adequate or above, 2 = inadequate
(Maxwell, L.E. (2007). Competency in child care settings : the role of the physical environment. Environment & Behavior, 39, 229)
Findings regarding the beneficial effects of good environmental design of school classrooms on academic performance of children are not yet as conclusive as more definitive findings from studies of office workers
(Leaman, A., and Bordass, B. (2006). Productivity in buildings: the ‘killer’ variables. In D. Clements-Croome (Ed.), Creating the productive workplace (2nd Ed.) (Chap. 10, p. 153). London: E&FN Spon.)
Smith, T.J., and Orfield, S.J. (2007). Occupancy quality predictors of office worker perceptions of job productivity (pp. 539-543). In Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 51st Annual Meeting. Santa Monica, CA: Human Factors and Ergonomics Society)
(St. Paul Pioneer Press, 9/14/11, p. 3D)
(Star Tribune, 9/28/10, p. A4)
(Gladwell, M. (2008). Outliers. New York: Back Bay Books)
(Schmidt, R.A. (1988). Motor Control and Learning (pp. 458-459). Human Kinetics: Champaign, IL)
Basic skills test scores, averaged for both math and reading, for Minnesota 8th graders by school district for the years 1996, 2002, 2006 and 2009, in relation to the percentage of low income students, for 49 different districts in the Minneapolis/St. Paul (Minnesota, USA) metropolitan area, based on publicly reported data.
-higher levels of student abuse and stress
-lower parental involvement in student schooling
-lower parental educational levels
-lower/negative peer support for student achievement
-less healthy student behavioral / lifestyle habits [i.e., nutrition (too much or too little); lower involvement in regular physical activity; substance abuse; violence]
Class Size Matters - A More Balanced Perspective(Biddle, B.J. & Berliner, D.C. (2002). What research says about small classes & their effects, San Francisco, CA: WestEd. (www.WestEd.org/ policyperspectives)
(Bransford, J.D., Brown, A.L., & Cocking, R.R. (Eds.) (2000). How People Learn. Brain, Mind, Experience, and School (p. 148).
Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press)
(Falk, J.H., & Dierking, L.D. (2010). The 95 percent solution. School is not where most Americans learn most of their science.
American Scientist, 98, 486-493)
“I never let my schooling interfere with my education”
Average Math Scores for 5th Graders in Relation to Overall School Enrollment for 1,662 Pennsylvania Schools
Average Math Scores for 11th Graders in Relation to Overall School Enrollment for 1,662 Pennsylvania Schools
(Wainer, H. (2007). The most dangerous equation. American Scientist, 95(3), 249-256)
(Straker, 2009, based on worldwide survey of children’s computer use)
(Science, 1/9/09, special section on education & technology)
The ease with which a user can learn to operate, prepare inputs for, and interpret outputs of a system or component [IEEE 90]
What do we know about the usability of different design factors known to impact learning outcomes of K-12 students?
• Ergonomic Programs for schools, school districts, and educational systems
• Usability Analysis of the designs developed and deployed by these programs
Relative Strengths and Shortcomings of Ergonomic Program Intervention versus Usability Analysis as Alternative Strategies for Improving the Design Quality of K-12 Learning EnvironmentsA Speculative Evaluation
How Can We Effectively Promote Recognition and Acceptance of Ergonomic Design of Learning Environments, and of Usability Analysis of These Environments, In a Systematic and Comprehensive Manner, by the K-12 Educational Community?A Guerilla Strategy for Educational Ergonomics and Usability Analysis