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Using Experiential Learning to Teach Office Ergonomics in the Undergraduate Classroom

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Industrial Engineering Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Industrial Engineering

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Paper Authors


Terri M. Lynch-Caris Kettering University

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Terri Lynch-Caris, Ph.D., P.E., is a Professor of Industrial Engineering (IE) and Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) at Kettering University in Flint, Michigan. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Michigan, holds an MS Degree from Purdue University and a BS from Kettering University, formerly GMI-Engineering & Management Institute. She teaches courses in Work Design, Ergonomics, Statistics and various other Industrial Engineering classes. Her research is in the area of Human Work Design, Educational Scholarship and Environmental Sustainability.

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Karl D. Majeske Oakland University

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Karl D. Majeske is an Associate Professor of Quantitative Methods Management in the School of Business Administration at Oakland University in Rochester Michigan. He received B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Industrial and Operations Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1985, 1991 and 1995, respectively. Dr. Majeske’s research interests include measurement systems analysis, automotive body manufacturing, and financial and economic decision making.

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Using Experiential Learning to Teach Office Ergonomics in the Undergraduate Classroom


Knowledge of contemporary issues is an important component of every industrial engineering undergraduate student’s curriculum. As professors in Industrial Engineering, it is our duty to continually update our courses to meet the changing needs of our students. The traditional topics of an industrial engineer have historically focused on the manufacturing and product industry. Specifically in the area of workplace design, the legacy workplace was impacted by the industrial revolution and corresponding tools for improvement in productivity. However, the knowledge economy and the explosion of information technology have changed the typical workplace.

This paper demonstrates an office ergonomics productivity evaluation that was incorporated into an undergraduate ergonomics class as a lab experiment. The experiment integrated a collection of topics and allowed students to learn in an experiential fashion. The lab experiment covered workplace design by comparing three potential computer workstation configurations: the traditional seated design, a standing design, and a treadmill walk station. The experiment quantified productivity with an input task based on Fitts' Tapping test, another basic topic of Ergonomics curriculum. The data for the experiment followed a factorial experimental design and were analyzed using multiple regression and analysis of variance, thus combining additional topics.

The experiment also allowed students to relate the results of the experiment to the design problem. The results of the research show that walking adversely affects productivity yet comparing seated and standing postures yields mixed results. For more simple tasks, the ideal posture is sitting while for more complex tasks the worker should be standing for improved productivity. The Ergonomics class was enhanced by the discussions about the tradeoffs of various factors in workplace designs that are relevant in the application of this topic to real-world experiences.

Lynch-Caris, T. M., & Majeske, K. D. (2016, June), Using Experiential Learning to Teach Office Ergonomics in the Undergraduate Classroom Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27144

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