The Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE) Department at Virginia Tech is evaluating the potential need for combining the coursework of three ISE undergraduate courses into two, sequential courses. The courses being considered are ISE 3014 - Work Measurement and Methods Engineering, 3614 - Introduction to Human Factors, and 3624 - Industrial Ergonomics. Our team consists of six graduate students who are currently enrolled in Dr. Tonya Smith-Jackson’s Human Information Processing class for the spring 2005 semester. Throughout our project research, we have worked closely with Dr. Michael Deisenroth as well as Dr. Smith-Jackson in order to receive their feedback and recommendations. Both professors are faculty members in the ISE Department at Virginia Tech.
The information contained in this report explains in detail the data collection, analytical techniques, and conclusions reached from our research. The methods utilized include surveys for faculty, teaching assistants (TAs), and students; interviews of faculty members, and finally a survey of literary sources containing past research. Surveys were used in our research in order to gain an understanding of the current opinions surrounding the current course structure. Since we will eventually be recommending changes in the current ISE curriculum, we felt it was very important to take into account the opinions of those that it would directly affect: faculty and students. We utilized coding techniques through content analysis in order to analyze these survey results. As mentioned, interviews were also conducted with faculty who gave their consent to do so. This provided the opportunity to meet face-to-face with faculty members to elaborate on their survey comments. A literature search helped to gain insight from past experiments and research. The techniques used to collect data encompassed many channels of research methods. This report will discuss our team’s findings and integrate them in a cohesive format.
These three courses are being evaluated because of issues concerning the subject material being taught. Many students have pointed out redundancies between the different courses. Currently, the three courses require eight sections of classes to accommodate the existing material. By merging the courses together this figure could potentially be reduced to six sections. Another issue with the present system is the vast differences in the course content between instructors. This could be due in part to not consulting the syllabus of record.
The ISE Department’s major goal is “to provide a high quality education that will prepare our undergraduate and graduate students for a life-long learning experience in this rapidly changing field and to prepare these students to be future leaders in the industrial engineering profession, in business, in industry, and in academia” and also to progress in research, while providing a service to the profession, society, and industry (Virginia Tech Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, 2003). In order to accomplish the department’s goals of offering a high quality interdisciplinary education, the department currently requires three courses, Work Measurement and Methods Engineering, Introduction to Human Factors, and Industrial Ergonomics to introduce the importance of the human in industrial work.
The goal of the project is to determine need and feasibility of merging three undergraduate courses to facilitate retention while reducing faculty workload. The recommended course proposals will be based on the collected data, literature, and best practices of other comparable Industrial Engineering programs. Some specific techniques used to construct the recommendations are human information processing, expert evaluation, and the systems approach.