Master thesis

Human Factors

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Master thesis

MHF1 - Conceptual or knowledge representation and development

SUPERVISOR: PROF. DR. FRANK VAN DER VELDE

These master thesis projects are related to the Living Smart Campus (LSC) project. (Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXTWTBedVlA). The general idea of the LSC project is “how to use technology to enhance the quality of life on the campus?”.

An important aspect of the LSC project is the interaction between humans and ICT systems. An example is an App developed in the LSC project that can be used in collaborative decision-making (CDM) meetings. An example of a CDM meeting is a design task in which collaborators have to solve a number of design related issues. The App can be used to streamline this process or to initiate certain design related issues.

An important theme in this research is knowledge representation and development. This concerns the way knowledge related to a given task (e.g., design) is developed in the system and how it can be represented (e.g., visualized) to foster human interaction with the system. An example of knowledge representation and development are Image Schemas.

A related theme is conceptual representation and development. This concerns the way in which humans conceptualize a specific task, such as CDM, and how that influences their interaction with ICT tools such as task related Apps. An example of conceptual representation and development is Conceptual Blending.

In these master thesis projects a choice can be made on the theme (knowledge or conceptual representation and development) and the focus of the research. One focus is a behavioral study of a task (e.g., a design task) in which knowledge representation plays a crucial role, or a behavioral study that investigates the conceptualizations that humans have of a specific task or domain (e.g., the campus).

Another focus is on the development of a knowledge representation or a conceptual space used for or with a specific task. Here, tools like Image Schemas or Conceptual Blending can be used to design and evaluate a specific knowledge representation or conceptual space. Another tool that could be used is the development of an App (e.g. using Swift) that can be used in a specific task (e.g., design).

These master projects are 25 or 35 EC projects. When specific tools (e.g., Apps) are developed, the project will be 35 EC, with an internship period of 10 EC to become familiarized with the tool to be used.

Interested?

Contact: prof. dr. Frank van der Velde: f.vandervelde@utwente.nl

MHF2 - Gaze viewer (35 EC)

Supervisor: dr. Rob van der Lubbe 

Gaze Viewer is a software package that records eye movements with an eye management module to provide insight into the interest of a client. By using various stimuli, it can be determined what images the client watches and for how long, which provides information about the interests of client without the need of asking explicit questions. Goal of the project is to develop procedures that allow to get information about cognitive processes of clients with limited communication abilities.

RDG Kompagne; http://www.rdgkompagne.nl/

MHF3 - Individuele verschillen bij het leren uitvoeren van minimaal invasieve operaties

Minimaal invasieve chirurgie, ook wel sleutelgat chirurgie of kijkoperatie genoemd, is een van de belangrijkste ontwikkelingen binnen de chirurgie van de afgelopen decennia. Uit onderzoek blijkt dat niet iedere arts even snel minimaal invasieve procedures aanleert: er zijn verschillen te zien in de leercurves (zie figuur 1).

Figuur 1. Leercurves voor efficiëntie van beweging (MotionEfficiency) voor drie verschillende deelnemers (Part) op een laparoscopie taak (Lifting & Grasping).

Deze verschillen kunnen deels verklaard worden door individuele verschillen tussen artsen, bijv. verschillen in de hoeveelheid training met een procedure of verschillen in aanlegfactoren zoals ruimtelijk inzicht. Minimaal invasieve procedures doen een sterk beroep op het ruimtelijk inzicht van een arts omdat de diepteperceptie verstoord is, er tegen-intuïtieve bewegingen gemaakt worden door het fulcrum effect en er verminderde haptische feedback is. Een goede mentale representatie van de situatie en anatomie alsook een goede oog-hand coördinatie is daarom van groot belang.


Figuur 2. Endovasculaire simulator.

Verder blijkt dat het trainen op een simulator een positief effect heeft op de prestaties in de operatie kamer. Er lijkt een zekere mate van transfer van vaardigheden te zijn van simulator naar OK. Hieruit kan worden afgeleid dat de uitvoering van handelingen op een simulator in zekere mate representatief is voor de uitvoering van vergelijkbare handelingen met daadwerkelijke patiënten, denk hierbij aan het manoeuvreren van de instrumenten, manipuleren van weefsel, etc. Hierbij moet de grote variatie in de praktijk natuurlijk niet onderschat worden, maar biedt de simulator wel een representatieve en veilige omgeving om de individuele verschillen tussen artsen bij het leren van minimaal invasief opereren verder te onderzoeken. In figuur 2 is zo’n soort simulator afgebeeld. 

Een volgende stap in het onderzoek naar de leercurves van minimaal invasieve handelingen en procedures is het analyseren en bruikbaar maken van de gegevens uit de virtual reality (VR) simulator. Geavanceerde statistische modellen maken het mogelijk een nauwkeurigere schatting te maken van de individuele leercurves en uitspraken te doen over de ontwikkeling van de leercurve van een individu.

In het huidige onderzoek binnen deze afstudeeropdracht gaan novice deelnemers (beginners) een aantal taken meerdere keren oefenen op een simulator. Op basis van de gegevens uit een VR simulator worden de leercurves geschat en kunnen individuele verschillen in de leercurves bestudeerd worden. Hierbij kan ook gekeken worden naar de invloed van aanlegfactoren zoals handvaardigheid en ruimtelijk inzicht maar ook naar de invloed van het soort taak, de ontvangen feedback, etc. Al het onderzoek vindt plaats in het Experimental Centre for Technical Medicine op de UT.

Er zijn drie projecten binnen deze opdracht waar je uit kunt kiezen:

  1. Leren van laparoscopische handelingen op een VR simulator; dit betreft het diagnosticeren en behandelen van aandoeningen in de buikholte.

Begeleiders: dr. Martin Schmettow, dr. Marleen Groenier

  1. Leren van bronchoscopische handelingen op een VR simulator; dit betreft het diagnosticeren en behandelen van aandoeningen in de longen. Dit project is een samenwerking met de afdeling Longziekten van het RadboudUMC Begeleiders: dr. Martin Schmettow, dr. Marleen Groenier, dr. Erik van der Heijden
  2. Leren van endovasculaire handelingen op een VR simulator; dit betreft het diagnosticeren en behandelen van aandoeningen in de bloedvaten en aderen. Dit project is een samenwerking met de afdelingen Vaatchirurgie van het MST en UZ Gent (België).

Begeleiders: dr. Martin Schmettow, dr. Marleen Groenier, prof. dr. Bob Geelkerken (MST), prof. dr. Isabelle van Herzeele (UZ Gent)

MHF4 - Perception of enhanced risk in a driving simulator

Supervisors: F. Walker, D. Preciado, W. Verwey, M. Martens

Thanks to rapid advances in technology, driving simulators are more and more immersive. Nevertheless, the term “immersion” defines an objective description of the technology (displays, graphics, etc.), and should not be confused with the definition of “sense of presence”. The latter, in fact, is a subjective experience, quantifiable by the user on an individual level (Slater, 1994, 1999).

Studies have shown that the emotional valence of the virtual environment can play a strong role in modulating sense of presence (Banos et al., 2004; Jurnet & Gutierrez-Maldonado, 2010). This is mainly due to the fact that emotional environments are experienced as more engaging, natural, believable and real (Banos et al., 2004). Studies have shown that “anxiety environments” induce a particularly powerful sense of presence (Jurnet & Gutierrez-Maldonado, 2010). Importantly, high sense of presence can lead to better performance (Slater et al., 1996; Larsson et al., 2002), and thus to results that more closely resemble natural behaviour.

The “relative” validity of driving simulators has been shown in several studies (e.g. Helland et al., 2012; Godley et al., 2002). Nevertheless, the lack of risk remains a major difference between the actual world and the simulated one (Espie’ et al., 2015). Indeed, studies (e.g. Helland et al., 2012) show that the lack of perceived danger in the driving simulator is an important factor that can potentially lead to a mismatch with actual driving behaviour.

Our study aims to answer the following research question: will perception of enhanced risk in a driving simulator induce a higher sense of presence in our participants?

Perception of risk in the simulator will be enhanced by telling our participants that, in case of collision during simulated driving, a very annoying (but not painful) electric shock will be administered. In reality, participants will experience small shocks only during the standardized calibration procedure of the Digitimer (i.e. the shock machine). Thus, no electric shock will ever be administered to our participants during the actual experiment. This means that we do not expect participants to crash, and if they do, we exclude them from the final sample. Phelps et al. (2001) have shown that if a shock is expected in response to a stimulus, activation of the amygdala will follow even if participants have no direct experience with the aversive event (i.e. the shock).

If you want to know more about this project, please send an email to Francesco: f.walker@utwente.nl

MHF5 - The vigilant brain (35 EC)

Supervisors: dr. Rob van der Lubbe, dr. Martin Schmettow

In a recent study, we compared the relevance of different measures derived from the EEG to measure the vigilant state of individuals. With these measures, the major idea was to determine what analysis method is most effective in predicting lapses of attention, which in for example driving conditions may lead to serious accidents. We employed ERPs, Fourier analyses, and ERD/ERS. The employed research paradigm, however, may not have been the most effective. Goal of the MA-project is to develop an improved paradigm, which might simply imply that more non-target stimuli are presented, and which may enable to use the recently developed LPS method (Van der Lubbe & Utzerath, 2013).

MHF6 - Trust in self-driving cars – An eye-tracking study

Supervisors: F. Walker, W. Verwey, M. Martens

In the automotive domain, an important goal for human factors is to ensure that drivers’ trust, during Highly Automated Driving (HAD), is correctly calibrated. To date, most studies have measured trust through self-reports. An alternative, potentially more objective measure, is to use gaze behaviour. Here we investigate the hypothesis that eye-movement behaviour can provide an effective measure of trust.

There have been relatively few studies of the relationship between trust and monitoring frequency during HAD. A few (e.g.Hergeth et al., 2016; Helldin et al., 2013) suggest that participants with a high level of trust tend to monitor the road less. Others (Gold et al., 2015) have failed to find this link. This video based experiment will partially address this issue, providing new information on the relationship between trust in automation and eye-movement behaviour. Importantly, providing further evidence of the link between trust and gaze behaviour, would ultimately allow the development of a standardized and objective new trust measurement.

The experiment builds on a previous study by Hergeth et al. (2016), which investigated the relationship between dispositional, situational and learned trust and gaze behaviour during simulated HAD. “dispositional trust” is a stable personality trait, an overall predisposition to trust; “situational trust” is context dependent, thus highly influenced by the external environment; “learned trust” is based on past experience and/or direct interactions with the trustee (Hoff and Bashir, 2014; Hergeth et al., 2016). The study showed a negative correlation between all three layers of self-reported trust with gaze behaviour: participants with higher self-reported trust attended more closely to a visually demanding non-driving-related secondary task, and were less likely to monitor the driving situation than participants with lower trust (Hergeth et al., 2016).

Our study aims to answer the following research question: is there a negative relationship between trust and monitoring frequency?

In the current study, videos will be presented in the UT driving simulator and participants will be instructed to imagine being in a self-driving car. Participants’ eye movements will be tracked through state of the art mobile eye-tracking technology.

If you want to know more about this project, please send an email to Francesco: f.walker@utwente.nl

Master thesis with internship

MHF7 - Efficient mind reading with the Stroop semantic priming test

Supervisor: dr. martin schmettow

Background

Mind reading refers to getting a grasp on what someone is currently thinking off, without the person noticing.

Opposed to some common belief, psychologists are well able to read people’s minds. The key to mind reading is to use so-called implicit techniques (Robinson & Neighbors, 2005), in contrast to the prevalent self-reports. The variety of implicit methods falls into two classes. In free association tasks (e.g., Schmettow & Keil, 2013), the response is free form (such as telling a brief story after viewing a picture), which is then interpreted by the researcher using some detailed scoring rules. In experimental tasks, differences in response times or other behavioral measures are used to infer the direction of thought.

This assignment is about using the well-known Stroop task. Participants first view a picture, followed by a word that is written in color. The participant is asked to respond to the color as quick as possible. When the participant has a strong association between picture and word, this leads to a distraction from the color naming task and can be measured as a delay in response time. By using words out of several categories, one can determine the broad direction of thought, the participant experienced.

To give an example: Supposed, you want to find out whether someone knows the fairytale of “Red Riding Hood”. You would prepare a set of pictures that cover the themes of the fairytale, for example showing and old lady, a wolf or a basket with food. Another set of pictures is neutral and serves as a control condition. In the same way you would create a two sets of target words. During the experiment you would present picture-word pairs. When the \response time for pairs that are both associated to the fairytale (e.g., picture of a wolf, followed by the word grandma) are delayed, you would conclude that the person knows the fairytale. For real applications see Schmettow, Noordzij, & Mundt (2013) and Sparrow, Liu, & Wegner (2011).

Importantly, the effect that causes the delay is different from the Stroop effect, as there is no specific interference due to conflict between target word and ink color. Rather is it a general distraction from the task (Mitterer, La Heij, & Van der Heijden, 2003).

Possible research question

Validating the Stroop semantic priming task

The SSPT has been used in a small number of studies so far and seems to produce usable results. However, no rigorous validation has been undertaken, yet. An experiment for validation could be done as follows: participants are tested on picture-word pairs, where pairs have an association, given the participant has a certain knowledge or background. For example, the participants knows or doesn’t know a certain fairytale, has seen a movie, read a novel, has a certain cultural background.

After the SSPT, an interview (or questionnaire) assesses whether the participant has the background that induces the association.

Replicating (Sparrow et al., 2011)

(Sparrow et al., 2011) used the SSPT to examine whether the WWW has changed the way we think about “knowledge problem”. They found that participants, when confronted with a trivia question (e.g., name a national flag that has three colors) show delayed response times on words that are related to computers and the WWW. This sounds intriguing, but in times of replicability crisis (Open Science Collaboration, 2015), skepticism is in order. In an experiment you will replicate the study, perhaps with some improvements on the experimental design.

Finding the most effective procedure

The Stroop task is a well-established experimental paradigm in cognitive psychology and so are the rules for creating experiments that validly replicate the Stroop effect. For the purpose of mind reading, however, it is most relevant to create an experimental procedure that capitalizes most efficiently on the distraction effect. The goal is to create strongest contrasts between associated and non-associated pairs. To give two examples: first, the Stroop effect is known to be quite robust to training (Macleod, 1991), which may not be the case for the distraction effect. In consequence, one would choose a setup where training is prohibited, for example, by swapping the response keys after every trial. Second, it is common practice to remove incorrect responses from the data set, whereas this may well contain information on the presence of association. The goal of the study is to assess a number of variants of the experimental setup and the data analysis, and assess the efficiency with respect to detecting associations.

Activities

In your thesis project you will:

  1. Do a literature study covering experimental priming paradigms and the Stroop task
  2. Derive three to five hypotheses of which experimental manipulations could increase efficiency
  3. Create a standard stimuli set for the semantic priming Stroop task (for example, fairytales and novels)
  4. Conduct an experiment to test your hypothesis
  5. Conclude with respect to the research question

This thesis project can be carried out by a team of 2-3 students

Interested? Ask Martin Schmettow (m.schmettow@utwente.nl)

References

  • Macleod, C. M. (1991). Research on the Stroop Effect : An Integrative Review. Psychological Bulletin, 109(2), 163–203.
  • Mitterer, H., La Heij, W., & Van der Heijden, a H. C. (2003). Stroop dilution but not word-processing dilution: evidence for attention capture. Psychological Research, 67(1), 30–42. doi:10.1007/s00426-002-0108-3
  • Open Science Collaboration. (2015). Estimating the reproducibility of psychological science. Science, 349(6251), aac4716–aac4716. doi:10.1126/science.aac4716
  • Robinson, M. D., & Neighbors, C. (2005). Catching the mind in action: Implicit methods in personality research and assessment. In M. Eid & E. Diener (Eds.), Handbook of multimethod measurement in psychology (Vol. 7, pp. 115–125). Washington, DC, US: APA American Psychological Association.
  • Schmettow, M., & Keil, J. (2013). Development of an Implicit Picture Story Exercise Measuring Personal Motives for the Interaction with Technical Products. University of Twente.
  • Schmettow, M., Noordzij, M. L., & Mundt, M. (2013). An implicit test of UX: Individuals Differ in What They Associate with Computers. In CHI ’13 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems on - CHI EA '13 (pp. 2039 – 2048). New York, New York, USA: ACM Press. doi:10.1145/2468356.2468722
  • Sparrow, B., Liu, J., & Wegner, D. M. (2011). Google effects on memory: cognitive consequences of having information at our fingertips. Science (New York, N.Y.), 333(6043), 776–8. doi:10.1126/science.1207745
MHF8 - Master thesis @ Volkswagen AG

Supervisor: dr. Martin Schmettow

Volkswagen AG has their own central research group for automotive design, where Human Factors experts collaborate with engineers and designers to envision and test future automotive designs. Past HFE students worked on high-impact research topics, such as:

  • novel cruise control concepts (replacing the steering wheel)
  • the efficiency of head-up displays
  • evaluation of concepts for the automatic driving

Past students found an open, friendly atmosphere and enjoyed excellent supervision. Interested students have to apply themselves at VW. Take a look at the job portal of VW: http://www.volkswagen-karriere.de/en.html.

If you do so, I suggest you let me know.

MHF9 - Position opening: Internship + Master’s thesis at TNO

We are looking for a talented, enthusiastic research intern (Master’s student from Human Factors and Engineering Psychology department) at TNO, Soesterberg. TNO is the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research. At Soesterberg, we do research in the fields of defense, safety and security. 


The intern will be working for a TNO project Personalized learning, sponsored by the Ministry of Defense. This project focuses on technology and learning analytics to better train military personnel.

Yelim Mun, a PhD student at the department of CPE, is conducting her research in this project at TNO, Soesterberg. Her research interest is how a Serious Game can help with enhancing adaptability for military training. Adaptability means the ability to adjust and cooperate with unpredictable and changing situations. The selected intern will assist Yelim’s research and work with her to investigate adaptability using a Serious Game. Moreover, mental model, pedagogical principles, methodology and training implications for the military will be investigated in this project.

The ideal intern for this project is Native Dutch (has to hold Dutch nationality) with high English proficiency. Good academic writing, statistical skills and a creative mind are what you have to offer. The internship and Master’s thesis starts on November 15th , 2017.

How to apply: Send an email to Yelim (y.mun@utwente.nl) with the title ‘Master thesis application TNO.’ The deadline for application is 15th September, 2017. Write a 200 words cover letter in English about your motivation to apply for this position and tell us about who you are. Attach a sample of your academic writing in English (Bachelor thesis or class assignment). Selected students will be invited for an interview at TNO. Final selection will be made from interviewed students.

Internship

MHF10 - Internship @ Mirabeau: Usability Testing for Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) devices, such as the Microsoft HoloLens, provide the user with a virtual layer on top of the real-world environment, enhancing the user’s perception of reality in real time. For a range of interesting use cases of AR, take a look at this collection of Luke Wroblewski: http://bit.ly/2fVVPH5

As with any type of product development, it is essential to test prototypes as early and quickly as possible, before investing time and money into the build phase.

However, to our knowledge, there currently exists no standard on how to create low-fidelity prototypes of AR-products (i.e. prototypes created without programming and/or computer animation), and how to test the usability of these.

The goal of the internship, therefore, is to develop a usability test procedure for a low-fidelity AR-prototype, which is grounded in both theory (desk research) and practice (iterative testing). The preliminary research question is as follows: ‘How do you test the usability (efficiency, effectiveness, satisfaction) of a low-fidelity Augmented Reality prototype?’

We are looking for an ambitious and analytical Human Factors student, who takes initiative and dares to challenge the status quo. You speak and write well in English (i.e. Dutch is not required), and you are not afraid of the challenge to bridge the gap between academia and business. Experience with user testing is a plus.

You will work in our offices in Rotterdam and/or Amsterdam, depending on your preference, and you can learn from 20+ Interaction Design colleagues through biweekly knowledge-sharing sessions. Moreover, you will receive internship & travel compensation, and valuable work experience in the field of digital design.

If you are interested, or have any questions, feel free to contact Lennart Overkamp, Interaction Designer at Mirabeau, via loverkamp@mirabeau.nl