People Innovation Excellence

Human factors for the cognitive classroom

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By David Brandt

Shaheen Ahmed, an assistant professor of automotive and manufacturing engineering technology at Minnesota State University was search for effective methods in teaching and learning. He design his own teaching style using principles of ergonomics and human factors. The first step of his teaching style is knowing his students by creating an online profile to be fill in by his student and send to Ahmed himself. It has a positive impact, the students think that they are cared for.

The second component of his teaching method is to challenge the students. Ahmed’s research suggested that forcing disagreements or exciting the brain can strengthen engagement in learning.  Creating an environment that challenges the student is the most important key to have a better learning environment. The third component is finding the right way to communicate a question or problem, a task made easier by Ahmed’s database of details about his students. In his classes, Ahmed gives quizzes and exams that fit the students’ abilities and inabilities, thereby creating a better learning opportunity.

Ahmed often doesn’t give a traditional, comprehensive final exam. It will make student so nervous and stressed toward the end of the semester. This is another ergonomics principle – fix a system little by little. That really helps the students.

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