Human-Centred Systems Design
 

Contents

Rationale

The rationale for the group is that the design of technology based systems is often predominantly techno-centric, even when the objective of such systems is to support human activity.  The agenda for the design of such systems is frequently set by technologists and prioritises technological issues, leading to designs which are unacceptable, unusable or at least sub-optimal because they ignore the characteristics of their users.

Previous HCSD research has greatly improved the performance of technology-based support systems with regard to the cognitive characteristics of individual end-users.  The focus of present research is on the interaction of technology based support systems with the social, cultural and organisational structures and mechanisms of human activity systems.  It enables the design of technological support systems to take account of issues such as distributed cognition, transactive memory, organisational knowledge, situated cognition and knowledge management.  This broadened scope of HCSD entails an extension of the traditional cognitive focus by the additional of social-psychological and sociological perspectives.  The aim of the HCSD Research Group is to develop new ways to integrate these perspectives with the systems analysis and design of technologically-based support systems so that human concerns are recognised as being fundamental and pre-eminent over technological issues from the start to the end of the design process.

Naturally, this is applied research which can only be conducted in live, working human activity system environments.  Consequently all of our work has been collaborative with industry or the public sector.  Three of our recent and ongoing projects have been in the field of support systems for engineering design teams, one with GEC-Plessey Semiconductors and two with Rolls-Royce Plc Technology and Engineering.Two projects have been collaborative with the Plymouth Postgraduate Medical School, one has been based at the DTI and another is collaborative with management consultants. 

The application of sociological and social-psychological techniques to domains conventionally regarded as deterministic has been particularly effective in disclosing many of the tacit beliefs and practices which enable work teams to function effectively and yet which are often ignored in the design of systems for their support.

Members and their Contact Details

Dr Peter Jagodzinski            School of Computing   peterj@soc.plym.ac.uk

Dr Fraser Reid             Department of Psychology   F.Reid@plymouth.ac.uk

Dr Phil Culverhouse            Department of Communication and Electronic Engineering       P.Culverhouse@plymouth.ac.uk

Dr Doug Benson            Department of Sociology   D.Benson@plymouth.ac.uk

Mr Andy Phippen            School of Computing andy.phippen@jack.see.plym.ac.uk

Recent and Current Projects

Over the last ten years the work of the group has been applied in four main application areas.

The following projects represent work started since 1995:

Engineering Design

(a)        An ethnographic study of engineering design teams at Rolls-Royce Aerospace.  EPSRC CASE 1995-98.  This project has used ethnography to identify the roles of socially mediated communication in engineering design teams.  It has been recognised by Rolls-Royce as important in enabling them to understand the way in which organisational changes such as BPR have affected the performance of teams, and enabled them to rethink the provision of computer based support to complement, rather than cut across, vital working practices.

(b)        An investigation of support needs for creative design at Rolls-Royce Aerospace.  EPSRC studentship 1995-98.  This research is investigating the points in the creative design process at which engineers are unable to progress further and have to satisfice rather than optimise.  Some of these obstacles can be attributed to shortcomings in the support tools such as CAD, information systems, modelling tools, access to other engineers and so on.  The aim of the research is to generate an analysis of requirements for an integrated multimedia support environment which provides access to appropriate tools and enables design problems to be addressed more easily from the different perspectives which need to be brought to bear.

Multimedia Learning Environments

Design issues for interactive drama.  HEFCE funding 1995-1997.

The 1995 Foresight Report predicted a convergence of broadbrand communications with digital television and computing over the next ten years.  This project is identifying design issues for an emergent media form, interactive drama.  The research is concerned with the way in which humans may become involved with a form of interactive computing which combines emotional, cultural, social and informational elements.  This issue facing designers of this new form of software is the need for design models which comprehend an arts paradigm in which humans’ subjective experience is the effect sought, rather than the objectively measured “performance improvement” of conventional software design.  The aim of the research to contribute to the development of these new design models.  It is based in the health care domain.

Health Care (in conjunction with Postgraduate Medical School)

Knowledge-based systems have the potential to provide important benefits of objectivity and access to deep reasoning for those undertaking complex, life-critical procedures.  However, it is recognised that their use is problematic because of issues such as indeterminate knowledge boundaries and responsibility and authority structures in clinical teams.  This project is studying obstetrics teams using a KBS funded by MRC during pilot trials in order to clarify benefits and deficits to the process of childbirth.  Based on this evidence the work will propose new models for the way in which the KBS and the team members interact.

Work Systems in Organisations

(a) The Department of Trade and Industry, in common with many large organisations, has developed complex and elaborate formal processes with which to implement Government policy. This study, conducted by a participant/observer within the DTI, reveals the realities of applying formal work processes in such situations and makes recommendations for process improvements.

(b) Management Consultants analyse organisations to identify problems in structures, relationships and processes.  This requires protracted investigation, producing large amounts of qualitative and quantitative data which the consultant has to record, absorb and digest before he or she can draw conclusions, based on a more or less comprehensive mental model of the situation.  This project funded by an EPSRC CASE studentship, entailed the detailed study of the working practices of management consultants and culminated in the development of a prototype computer-based support tool which enables both qualitative and quantitative views to be recorded and represented in dynamic interaction.

Publications Since 1995

Jagodzinski A P
Reid F  J M
Culverhouse P    
  Ethnographic approaches to the study of engineering design: an industry perspective.  Editorial to a special issue of Design Studies, Volume 21.  No4, July 2000, 315-317.
Baird F
Moore C
Jagodzinski A P
An ethnographic study of engineering design teams at Rolls-Royce Aerospace.  Special issue of Design Studies, Volume 21.                       No 4, July 2000, 333-356
Jagodzinski A P
Reid F J M 
Culverhouse P
Parsons R
Phillips I
A study of electronics engineering design teams.   Special issue       of Design Studies.  Volume 21.  No 4, July 2000, 375-402.  
Jagodzinski A P The growth of e-commerce and its relationship to skills shortages, changing technologies and the provision of education and training in the UK: an invited paper for the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union. In: E-Commerce: policy development and co-ordination in the EU. Session 1999-2000 14th report, Evidence, pp463-470. The Stationery Office, London. ISBN 0-10-409500-8.
Jagodzinski A P
Turley S
Rogers T

Interactive drama – a new form of HCI.  British Computer Society Workshop on Effective Training and Education in HCI. South   Bank University, April 12-13 1999.  An invited presentation and seminar.

Harris M
Jagodzinski A P
Greene K R
Human error in the context of work activity systems: a case study of a knowledge-based computer system in routine use. Workshop on Human Error and Clinical Systems, 15th-17th April 1999, University of Glasgow.
Harris M
Jagodzinski A P
Greene K R
Roles for knowledge-based computer systems in team work:   case studies in maternity care.  Design for Collaboration: Communities constructing Technology Workshop. 12th March 1999.  University of York.  
Reid F M J
Jagodzinski A P
Culverhouse P F
Parsons R
Burningham C
The management of electronics engineering design teams:             linking tactics to changing conditions.  Design Studies.  Volume 21 No 1 January 2000, 75-97.
Turley S
Rogers T
Jagodzinski A P
Paradigms for the design of interactive drama.                                  Personal Technologies. (1999) Volume 3 number 3, pp141-152.
Turley S
Rogers T
Jagodzinski A P
Phillips M
User engagement and interactive drama. First British HCI Group one-day conference on "Computers and Fun", 30th                       November 1998. University of York
Baird F
Jagodzinski AP
An ethnographic study of engineering design teams: an invited seminar at Xerox Research Centre Europe, Cambridge. September 1998
Jagodzinski A P
Livingstone D
Phillips M
Rogers T
Turley S
Design issues for interactive drama, HCI'98 British Computer   Society Conference on Human Computer Interaction, Sheffield         Hallam University, Sheffield, September 1998.  HCI'98  Conference Companion Eds. May J, Siddiqui J & Wilkinson J                                 pp 26-27. ISBN 0 86339 795 6.
Baird F
Rolls- Moore C
Jagodzinski A P
An ethnographic study of engineering design teams at Royce Aerospace.  Design Research Society Workshop on Ethnographic Approaches to the Study of Engineering Design: an Industry Perspective, Rolls-Royce Aerospace, Derby, January 29th 1998.
Culverhouse P
Reid F
Jagodzinski A P
Phillips I   
The co-ordination of electronics engineering teams.  Design              Research Society Workshop on Ethnographic Approaches to the Study of Engineering Design: an Industry Perspective. Rolls-Royce Aerospace, Derby, January 29th 1998.
Jagodzinski A P
Baird F
The use of ethnography to acquire an insider's view of engineering design teams.  IEE Manufacturing Division Workshop on Soft Approaches to Product Improvement. November 18th 1997, Midlands Engineering Centre, Birmingham.
Jagodzinski A P
Burningham C
Culverhouse P F
Evans J 
Parsons R
A multidisciplinary approach to identifying and establishing support for the management of the team process and design.11th International Conference on Engineering Design.  August 19-21, 1997.  Tampere, Finland. pp 2/393-398. Ed. Riitahuhta A. ISBN 951-722-788-4.
Jagodzinski A P
Burningham C
Culverhouse P F
Evans J
Parsons R
Reid F
  A socio-technical system for the support of the management and control of engineering design projects.  In: The design                         productivity debate, Ed. Duffy A. Springer Verlag 1997. London. pp 113-150.ISBN 3-540-76195-0.  
Rogers T
Jagodzinski A P
Phillips M
Turley S
Interactive drama: a tool for humanistic learning.  Proceedings of Computer Aided Learning (CAL) 97 conference.  March 23-26 1997.  University of Exeter. Ed. Baggot L. pp 249-257.                         ISBN 850-68-188X.
Jagodzinski A P
Parsons R
Burningham C
Evans J 
Reid F
Culverhouse P F
A socio-technical system for the support of the management and control of engineering design projects.  Ed. Duffy A.  Preprints of the 1st International Engineering Design Debate 23-24                        September 1996.  University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. pp 77-108.
Jagodzinski A P
Phillips M
Blackwell G
The role of cultural and social issues in software engineering in a       multimedia learning environment for the disabled.  Proceedings of the 4th Annual Conference on the Teaching of Computing.  CTI Computing, Dublin City University 27-30 August 1996.                         pp 212-215. Eds. O'Connor R and Alexander S.
Jagodzinski A P
Burningham C
Culverhouse P F
Evans J St B
Parsons R
Reid F
An integratapproach to the solution of interdependent                         problems in the management and control of design in electronics    engineering.  Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Concurrent Engineering and Electronic Design Automation.  Robinson College, Cambridge. April 10-12 1996. Ed. Zobel R. ISBN 1-56555-095-1 pp 125-129.
Jagodzinski A P
Phillips M
Rogers T
Smith C
Models of knowledge, learning and representation for Multimedia   Learning Environments.  In: Implementing flexible learning, Eds. Bell C, Bowden M & Trott A, proceedings of the Aspects of                         Educational and Training Technology conference XXIX 1995, University of Plymouth pp 211-218. ISBN 0-7494-1874-5. August 1996.
Pearce P D
Jagodzinski A P
Dixon M
Wittamore K
Lovitsky V A
Mulhall D J
Organisational Analysis Tools.  Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Management of Technology.February 27 - March 1 1996.  Miami, Florida, USA.  pp 355-362.  ISBN 88-7975-159-X
Smith C
Jagodzinski A P 
The implementation of a multimedia learning environment for civil engineers.  Association for Learning Technology Journal 3,1 (1995) (29-39).
Blackwell G
Jagodzinski A P
Phillips M
Use of multimedia tools to simulate a workplace environment for distance learning by disabled students.  International Conference on Multimedia Communications: The Information Age. Southampton April 11-12, 1995.

 

Recent PhDs from within the Human-Centred Systems Design Group

Richard Parson 1998 Supporting the management of engineering design teams through a dynamic contingency approach
Mark Dixon 2000 User-centred methods in the analysis and design of software to support management consultants
Tom Rogers 2000 Design models for multimedia learning environments based on interactive drama.
Ron Downing 2000 Improving design and administration of government support programmes for industry