A Case Study in Human Factors and Design
Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering
University at Buffalo
The controversies surrounding the November 2000 presidential election, specifically the difficulties encountered in interpreting imperfectly punched ballots, provide the backdrop for this case. Developed for an upper-level undergraduate course in human factors/ergonomics, the goal of the case is to help students recognize how engineering solutions can be brought to bear to solve problems of national importance. The case would also be appropriate for use in an upper-level undergraduate course in human-computer interaction or user centered design.
- To have students apply knowledge in user centered design to a real life design problem.
- To reinforce concepts of mappings, conceptual models, feedback, and gulfs of execution and evaluation through their consideration in a real life system.
- To allow students to incorporate individual characteristics of user populations in the design of multiple characteristics of a system (including computer input and output mechanisms, physical system design, software interaction styles) and to learn about potential interactions among these characteristics.
- To provide students with an opportunity to develop a user centered testing process.
KeywordsPresidential election 2000; ballot; interface design; human computer interaction; ergonomics; gulf of evaluation; gulf of execution; voting machine design; hanging chad;
Topical AreasPolicy issues
Educational LevelUndergraduate upper division
Type / MethodsDilemma/Decision, Discussion, Problem-Based Learning
Subject HeadingsIndustrial Engineering | Computer Engineering |
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Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.
The following video clip (2.3 MB, mpeg, used with permission of General Registrar, Chesterfield County, Virginia) is referenced in the case and shows the process of voting with a punchcard system.