IEN 557: Assignment #2, due Thursday, November 20th


Assignment #2 requires that you consider some technological product, system, or process that one or more persons must interact with to accomplish some task. To distinguish between these entities, for example, a product or device might be a laser tool used for inspection; a system may be a robotic surgical station; and a process might be a colonoscopy procedure. The entity could be one that you are familiar with from a work-related or personal experience, or one that you just happen to have a personal interest in.


The product, system, or process should be sufficiently complex to warrant a more detailed analysis from the standpoints of usability, performance, human error, or safety considerations.  It should not be so trivial in its complexity that all its possible shortcomings, issues, or problems in interacting with it are immediately obvious.


Once you have selected the product, system, or procedure, this assignment requires performing a hierarchical task analysis (HTA) of that entity. The HTA that is developed should consist of two interrelated components:


1.     A graphical representation of the HTA.

2.     A corresponding tabular component that is linked to the HTA, which provides insight into the HTA steps or components.


The details of the assignment are as follows:


(a)   Begin by describing the product, system, or process including its basic purpose and features, and why one might be interested in performing an HTA (i.e., specify the possible concerns that potentially warrant the need for such an analysis).

(b)  Perform a hierarchical task analysis (HTA) corresponding to a human’s (or team’s) interaction with this device/system/process by providing a suitably labeled or numbered graphical representation of the HTA.

(c)   Provide a corresponding representation of your graphical HTA in a tabular format that is capable of providing important insights, such as concerns for safety or productivity, human performance failures, or any other issues that you can think of that might be meaningful. You can specify any types of columns that you feel are useful for the tabular format; they do not (and probably should not) be a complete copy of what was presented in class, but rather it should be customized to your problem.

(d)  In general, your analysis should emphasize human factors or ergonomics considerations. For example, try to capture shortcomings with the current interactive design in terms of problems that can arise due to the demands imposed by the product/system and the user’s capabilities for meeting those demands or errors that can result.

(e)   You should conclude with some discussion that summarizes your findings from your HTA, including any recommendations for redesign that could benefit the human or team’s interaction with the product or system.




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