Heimstra Human Factors Laboratory
The Heimstra Human Factors Laboratory is located in the South Dakota Union building. Its labs include:
- Human Electrophysiology Laboratory
- Visual Performance Laboratory
- HCI/UX/Cognitive Ergonomics Laboratory
- PsychoAcoustics Laboratory
- Graduate Student Office Complex
Staffing in human factors has increased significantly and the research capabilities of the laboratory have expanded to include a number of major areas of human factors research. Please feel free to contact any of our professors if you have questions regarding our program or the research they are currently investigating.
Applied Cognitive Psychology
Basic coursework in cognitive psychology is required of all human factors graduate students. Human factors faculty and students have been involved in a broad range of studies involving application of cognitive theory and methods to human factors research. Recent research focus include cognitive issues in visual display design, complex monitoring tasks, numerical data entry, interview and survey administration, consumer product labeling and neutral evidence of increased cognitive effort.
Aging and Technology
Older adults are a rapidly growing segment of all industrialized populations. Age-related changes in physiological and psychological capacities alter the design equations which dictate system optimization. Research in the Heimstra Human Factors Laboratory is examining technology acceptance models & the development of technology-based interventions for older adults.
User eXperience (UX)/ Human Computer Interaction (HCI)
User eXperience (UX) is as an important class of human factors research. The way in which electronic devices display information and interact with users is critical to the effective use of those devices. Research investigating the utility, ease of use, and efficiency of electronic devices being used in a variety of applications is the focus of this research.
Understanding Virtual Environments
Computer generated virtual environments ranging from video conferencing to immersive virtual reality headsets are increasingly common in work, education, and daily life. Research investigating the basic psychological factors to understand effective versus ineffective use of virtual environments along with specific applications are investigated.
Motor Performance Research
A current focus of research at the Heimstra Human Factors Laboratory includes the analysis of motor output spectra in a variety of tracking tasks and performance of gloved operators on standard control manipulations involving toggle switches, push buttons, joysticks and touch screens. Research also addresses the problem of workload quantification in a variety of applied settings and the degradation of performance capability under conditions of fatigue, danger and other environmental and psychological stressors.
Psychology of Safety
Industrial accidents can be studied by collecting and analyzing unique case histories, or by calculating casualty rates per individual, per exposure and per unit of output. The Heimstra Human Factors Laboratory is presently using the casualty rate approach to evaluate agricultural accidents on farms in terms of the man-hours of contact with particular machines and procedures. The unique case-history approach is used for evaluating motor vehicle accidents in the vicinity of highway work zones. Safety theory includes human operator failure predictions, safety intervention strategies and studies of both cost-benefit tradeoffs and benefit-benefit tradeoffs.
Traffic Safety/Transportation Systems Research
Human factors research has focused on the characteristics and skills of the individual operator, as well as on assessments of the effectiveness of major traffic safety countermeasure systems on local, state and national levels. Recent studies of driver behavior have focused on the effects of aging on glare recovery and other visual aspects of the driving task.
Application of human factors principles to the flight environment. Factors which affect pilot performance including aptitudes, perceptual limitations, fatigue, pilot error in terms of its measurement, classification and control. Human dynamics of the cockpit are being investigated, including flight crew communication, leadership motivation and use of automated speech recognition/synthesis. Design of the cockpit from a human factors point of view including displays and controls. Pilot training will be considered, with an emphasis on methods and techniques for developing design criteria for flight simulators. Factors covering mental models in aviation performance of complex or cooperative shared-knowledge tasks.