In this homework you are going to be conducting a partial replication of a study by Shinar and Acton (1978) which looked at population stereotypes versus product standards for four-burner ranges (both gas and electric, free-standing and counter-top ranges).

Shinar and Acton's Study
Population stereotype survey
Shinar and Acton surveyed 222 adults and they showed them a schematic diagram of a range in which the burners were labeled A, B, C, & D. Each person was told to imagine that they were entering a new apartment and that they saw a new range in the kitchen. They were then asked 2 questions:
1. Which knob would you turn to turn on each of the four burners? Indicate your answer by writing the appropriate letter inside each knob.

2. How confident are you that you chose the correct knob? Indicate your confidence by a number from 1 (not confident) to 7 (very confident).

Market survey of existing ranges
Shinar and Acton (1978) examined the control-display layout for 49 ranges.

Your Study
This is a variation of the above which takes account of the increasing popularity of counter-top cooker ranges ( where the control and display are in the same horizontal plane). Your study comprises three parts:

1. Literature review
Briefly summarize any previous research literature on this issue and include full citations in a reference list at the end of your report.

2. Market survey
Conduct a market survey of existing cooker-ranges. You will need to visit one or more large stores to collect information on the control-burner arrangement for at least 10 different models. Try to choose cooker-ranges which are different from each other, and choose a mix of traditional and counter-top ranges. For each model you should collect the following information:
a. Manufacturer and model number
b. Traditional cooker range or counter-top range
c. Control-burner relationship
d. Direction of movement of control to increase and decrease heat
e. Presence and type of labeling to help the user
f. Any other relevant, unique or distinct features

You should summarize the information for these 10 models in a spreadsheet or table.

From this survey you should write the answers to the following questions:
a. Does the same manufacturer or different manufacturers always use the same control-burner relationship on all models, and if not what are the more popular and least popular arrangements?
b. Are there consistent differences between control-burner relationships between manufacturers, and if so what are these?
c. From your data, is there a preferred configuration for control-burner layout?
d. Is there any consistent difference in control-burner layout between traditional cooker ranges (where controls are usually at 45-90° to the burners) and counter-top ranges (where controls and burners are in the same plane).
e. Do cooker-range controls all operate burners in the same way i.e. does a clockwise rotation of the control always signal an increase in burner activity? If not, how many use each of the arrangements you found?
f. Is there any consistent convention for labeling cooker-range controls? If so, what is this?

Population stereotype survey
Conduct a survey of people's expectations about control-display relationships for cooker-ranges. For this you will need to use at least 2 diagrams, one of a traditional range control burner arrangement and one of a counter-top range control burner layout. An example of the kind of diagrams you might use is appended. You may, however, also like to think about alternative layouts and include a diagram of one or more of these in your study. Alternatively, you may choose to use the layout from one or more of the existing models from your market survey for your diagram.

Once you have chosen your layout diagrams you should then survey at least 10 people (this is a minimum number so feel free to do more as your time budget allows), asking each of them the same questions as those posed by Shinar and Acton (1978) for each layout diagram. Note that their question on 'confidence' is a bit suspect because it is unclear whether or not this refers to all 4 control-burner relationships or each one in turn (if the latter then an average rating for the 4 can be taken). You are free to improve on these questions as you see fit.

CAUTION: you are interested in people's initial expectations and so you might want to ask separate people about each diagram or if not, you should try to balance to order in which you present layouts to people e.g. if you have 3 layouts you should present these to different people in different orders such as 123, 132, 213, 231, 321, 312. This strategy will reduce systematic bias in your data due to your method of data collection.

Once you have collected your data you should summarize this as follows:
a. Draw diagrams of the layouts people choose and record how many people choose a particular layout. Is there any evidence for a population stereotype?
b. For each of these layouts calculate the average (mean) confidence rating? Does the most frequent layout have the highest average rating?
c. Is there any systematic difference in people's expectations for the traditional versus the counter-top ranges, and if so which arrangement is superior in terms of frequency of choice and confidence ratings?
d. Compare the results of this survey to those of the market survey. Are cooker manufacturers producing products that match with people's expectations?

Homework report
At the end of this homework you should produce a paper of no more than 10 typed pages that describes what you did and what you found. This paper should contain a summary of previous literature on studies of stove design and answers to the above questions. You don't have to list your answers providing you can address these somewhere in the report. If you want to include diagrams then please put these in an appendix. Don't include your raw data in the body of the report but do include a summary of this either as a results table in the text or in an appendix.

At the end of your paper make sure that there is a short section (no more than 1 page) discussing the implications of your findings and how your results relate to previous research as well as your recommendations for future stove design.

You may like to look at the original article by Shinar and Acton (1978). This paper is also summarized in Sanders & McCormick (7th ed.) pages 304-305. You should also check the Human Factors and Ergonomics literature (you can access this via Ergonomics Abstracts available through the Mann gateway) for more recent studies of stove layout (e.g. Hsu and Peng, 1993; Hoffmann & Chan, 2011).

A note on organization
To enable you to collect as much data as possible in the time available you may like to organize yourselves to work in groups. If you workin a group you should name the other group members in your report. You are free to choose how you do this and you are free to share group data both within and between groups. However, even if you use group data your report must be your own work.


The final date for submission of this homework is Tuesday, October 31, 2017. Your homework should be submitted in class that day. This homework counts for 20% of your course grade.


Counter-top range (Top view - controls on right)



Shinar, D. and Acton, M.B. (1978) Control-display relationships on the four burner range: Population stereotypes versus standards. Human Factors, 20, 13-17.

Hsu, S.H. and Peng, Y. (1993) Control/display relationship of the four-burner stove: A re-examination. Human Factors, 35, 745-749.

Hoffmann, E.R. & Chan, A.H.S. (2011) Alternative approaches to the design of four-burner stoves, Ergonomics, 54 (9), 777-791.