The Hexagon-Spindle Model for educational ergonomics

Rachel Benedyk, Andree Woodcock, Andrew Harder

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    19 Citations (Scopus)


    Ergonomics has traditionally considered work done, in a workplace. More recently, this scope has broadened, and the concept of 'work' may now be applied to the satisfactory completion of any task. Thus, learning, being the transformation and extension of the learner's knowledge or skills, can be viewed as work, with its workplace being the educational environment in which learning tasks take place. In accomplishing the learning, the learner interacts with the teachers, other students, equipment, materials, study plans and the educational organisation; the effectiveness of these learning interactions is influenced by many factors both inside and external to the organisation. To optimize such a multi-factorial process requires the application of an ergonomic approach. This paper proposes an adaptation of the concentric rings model of ergonomics, informed by Kao's earlier model, to produce a new model for educational ergonomics, known as the Hexagon-Spindle Model. In comparison to other published models of educational ergonomics, it is holistic, multi-dimensional, task-related and transferable across a range of educational settings. It extends to characterise a time base for serial and simultaneous tasks, and space shared by multiple learners, and highlights areas where learner/system conflicts may arise. The paper illustrates analysis tools for the application of the model in evaluation and design.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)237-248
    JournalWork: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment and Rehabilitation
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

    Bibliographical note

    Author's note: This work was a collaboration between Woodcock and Benedyk. Benedyk was Woodcock’s tutor on her MSc in Ergonomics and had developed previous models of ergonomics. However, these models needed refreshing and had never been applied to an educational environment. The experiences of Woodcock’s AHRC funded autism project, her previous research on educational ergonomics and some seed corn funding from the Ergonomics Society were used to further develop the hexagon spindle model of educational ergonomics and apply this to the design of tertiary educational facilities for laptop using students. Te results from the study, conducted at UCL and designed and analysed at Coventry were fed into the design of the UCL campus, developed as guidelines for university students and have resulted in a number national (Ergonomics Society Conference) and international of workshops (IEA in Bali and AHFE in USA) on the application/utilisation of the model . Following presentation of the model in Indonesia a PhD student was recruited at Coventry, who is working on the design of teaching and learning in graphic design.
    Of special interest in terms of the model is the greater emphasis given to the culture of teaching and learning, individual differences (multiple intelligences) and the effects of wider issues (such as policy and investment) on teaching and learning. The recognition of the limitations of ‘flat, concentric models’ has resulted in the ‘spindle’ part of the model – introduced by Woodcock – which recognises that the model will only work for one particular task, and that a school day/or set of learning exercise will be formed from many rings , and the quality of the teaching and learning experience for any one learner will be the result of the sum of those rings – so each task and its environment needs to be optimised for each learner.
    Citation or other Indicators
    The development of the model was based on work conducted in the AHRC funded, Project Spectrum (PIs Woodcock and Georgiou both at Coventry University).This was reported in a second journal article in the same volume.


    • Ergonomic model
    • ergonomic analysis
    • learning environment


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