645.621.81 - Engineering and Measuring Influence

Systems Engineering
Fall 2023


Systems engineering requires an understanding of how people interact with complex systems. Often times, human interaction makes up a substantial portion of system variance and controlling this variance is critical for system performance. Engineers must design interventions to influence people through all aspects of the system. Emerging technology can be used to understand, measure, and assess the effectiveness of interventions to influence human behavior and performance. This course will introduce students to theories of behavior change and provide hands on experience using technologies to measure human-system interaction and influence. Technologies will include biometric, psycho-physiological, and neuroimaging systems.


Profile photo of Ian McCulloh.

Ian McCulloh


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Jennifer McKneely

Course Structure

The course materials are divided into modules which can be accessed by clicking Course Modules on the course menu. A module will have several sections including the overview, video lectures and content, readings, discussions, and assignments. You are encouraged to preview all sections of the module before starting. Most modules run for a period of seven (7) days, exceptions are noted in the Course Outline. You should regularly check the Calendar and Announcements for assignment due dates.

Course Topics

Influence and Human Behavior Change


Human Subject Research Fundamentals


Neural Anatomy


Perception & Attention






Neural Imaging


Neural Data Analysis


Project 1: fNIRS


Biometric and Physiological Methods


Eye Tracking Data Analysis


Project 2: Eye Tracking


Experimental Design


Final Projects

(Ian and Jen)

Course Goals

By the end of the course, students should be able to: Describe classic models of behavior change as well as the neurocognitive influence model; Explain counter-arguing and describe its neural basis; Describe ethical issues associated with neuro measurement in studies related to influence and persuasion; Conduct human subject research in accordance with university and federal requirements; Describe neural anatomy and cognitive functions associated with perception, attention, memory, and emotion. Explain the equipment used to collect biometric, psycho-physiological, and neuroimaging data. Utilize equipment to collect biometric, psycho-physiological, and neuroimaging data; Conduct analysis of collected data; and Communicate findings in an academic paper.

Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs)


Cerf, M., Garcia-Garcia, M. (2017) Consumer Neuroscience. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press

ISBN - 0262036592, 9780262036597

Student Coursework Requirements

Assignments                                         25%

Exam 1                                                 15%

Exam 2                                                 15%

Lab/Project 1                                        15%

Lab/Project 2                                        15%

Final Project/Paper                                10%

Discussion/Response Participation           5%

Grading Policy

For Assignments

Two to three topic questions will be posted for modules 1, 4, 5, 6, 10. You will complete a one-page response to a question of your choice (double-spaced -- do not include your name, the question title and the citations as part of the one page), each of which is worth 5% of the total grade. The goal is to demonstrate your understanding of the module content and to demonstrate that you have read the relevant literature. Each response should include citation(s) and reference(s) following APA format. Late work will not be graded resulting in a score of 0 point for that module.

For Exams

There will be two exams throughout the course, in modules 3 and 7.  These will be timed exams through BlackBoard that will test your knowledge of the content in modules leading up to the exam, including the module in which the exam is delivered.  The exam will include multiple choice, short answer, and anatomy (an image of the brain or body part requiring labeling and short description of anatomical function).

For Labs

Labs and final are expected to be turned in through BlackBoard as indicated in the assignment tool; it will be considered late if it is received after that time. Special circumstances (e.g., temporary lack of internet access) can be cheerfully accommodated if the student informs us in advance. An assignment that is unjustifiably late will have the grade reduced for lateness.



We generally do not directly grade spelling and grammar. However, egregious violations of the rules of the English language will be noted without comment. Consistently poor performance in either spelling or grammar is taken as an indication of poor written communication ability that may detract from your grade.


If, after submitting a written assignment a student is not satisfied with the grade received, the student is encouraged to redo the assignment and resubmit it. If the resubmission is correct with all deficiencies corrected, the students will receive 25% of the lost points.  For example, student X receives an 80%.  He resubmits the assignment with all portions correct.  His revised score will be 80 + .25*20 = 85%.  This option is NOT available for the final.


Quantitative labs are graded as follows:

100–90 = A—All parts of question are addressed; All intermediate derivations and calculations are provided and correct; Answer is technically correct and is clearly indicated; Answer precision and units are appropriate.

89–80 = B—All parts of question are addressed; Intermediate derivations and calculations are provided, but some mistakes are present; Generally, student demonstrates an understanding of the correct solution; Answer is technically correct and is indicated; Answer precision and units are appropriate.

79–70=C—Most parts of question are addressed; Some intermediate derivations and calculations are provided or multiple mistakes are present; Generally, student demonstrates a weak understanding of the correct solution; Answer is not technically correct but is indicated; Answer precision and units are indicated.

<70=F—Some parts of the question are addressed; Intermediate derivations and calculations are not provided; The answer is incorrect or missing; The answer precision and units are inappropriate or missing.

For Final Paper

The last block is devoted to the course project and final paper. The final project will be evaluated by the following grading elements:

  1. Writing quality and technical accuracy (30%). Writing is expected to meet or exceed accepted graduate-level English and scholarship standards. That is, all assignments will be graded on grammar and style as well as content.
  2. Data Analysis (10%). Students are expected to successfully use software to conduct data analysis correctly.  Please provide any code/script with final assignment.  This is most likely the same analysis as that produced during labs 1 and 2, but you have the opportunity to revise or update your analysis.
  3. Meaningful Analysis (40%). Students will apply appropriate analytic methods taught throughout the course to provide a novel or interesting insight within their chosen data.
  4. Formatted Correctly (10%). Students will identify a target conference proceeding or journal publication, review instructions to authors, and format their final paper appropriately.  Students will provide the instructors a link to the instructions to authors for grading.
  5. References (10%). Students adequately cite previous relevant research to meet academic publishing standards.


100–90 = A—Paper is rich in content; full of thought, insight, and analysis; well-written; correctly formatted for target venue.

89–80 = B—Paper contains substantial information; thought, insight, and analysis has taken place; paper is written logically and easy to follow; correctly formatted for target venue.

79–70 = C—Paper is generally competent; information is thin and commonplace; poor writing; not formatted for target venue.

<70 = F—Paper is rudimentary and superficial; no analysis or insight displayed; poor writing; no coherent format.

Academic Policies

Deadlines for Adding, Dropping and Withdrawing from Courses

Students may add a course up to one week after the start of the term for that particular course. Students may drop courses according to the drop deadlines outlined in the EP academic calendar (https://ep.jhu.edu/student-services/academic-calendar/). Between the 6th week of the class and prior to the final withdrawal deadline, a student may withdraw from a course with a W on their academic record. A record of the course will remain on the academic record with a W appearing in the grade column to indicate that the student registered and withdrew from the course.

Academic Misconduct Policy

All students are required to read, know, and comply with the Johns Hopkins University Krieger School of Arts and Sciences (KSAS) / Whiting School of Engineering (WSE) Procedures for Handling Allegations of Misconduct by Full-Time and Part-Time Graduate Students.

This policy prohibits academic misconduct, including but not limited to the following: cheating or facilitating cheating; plagiarism; reuse of assignments; unauthorized collaboration; alteration of graded assignments; and unfair competition. Course materials (old assignments, texts, or examinations, etc.) should not be shared unless authorized by the course instructor. Any questions related to this policy should be directed to EP’s academic integrity officer at ep-academic-integrity@jhu.edu.

Students with Disabilities - Accommodations and Accessibility

Johns Hopkins University values diversity and inclusion. We are committed to providing welcoming, equitable, and accessible educational experiences for all students. Students with disabilities (including those with psychological conditions, medical conditions and temporary disabilities) can request accommodations for this course by providing an Accommodation Letter issued by Student Disability Services (SDS). Please request accommodations for this course as early as possible to provide time for effective communication and arrangements.

For further information or to start the process of requesting accommodations, please contact Student Disability Services at Engineering for Professionals, ep-disability-svcs@jhu.edu.

Student Conduct Code

The fundamental purpose of the JHU regulation of student conduct is to promote and to protect the health, safety, welfare, property, and rights of all members of the University community as well as to promote the orderly operation of the University and to safeguard its property and facilities. As members of the University community, students accept certain responsibilities which support the educational mission and create an environment in which all students are afforded the same opportunity to succeed academically. 

For a full description of the code please visit the following website: https://studentaffairs.jhu.edu/policies-guidelines/student-code/

Classroom Climate

JHU is committed to creating a classroom environment that values the diversity of experiences and perspectives that all students bring. Everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Fostering an inclusive climate is important. Research and experience show that students who interact with peers who are different from themselves learn new things and experience tangible educational outcomes. At no time in this learning process should someone be singled out or treated unequally on the basis of any seen or unseen part of their identity. 
If you have concerns in this course about harassment, discrimination, or any unequal treatment, or if you seek accommodations or resources, please reach out to the course instructor directly. Reporting will never impact your course grade. You may also share concerns with your program chair, the Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, or the Office of Institutional Equity. In handling reports, people will protect your privacy as much as possible, but faculty and staff are required to officially report information for some cases (e.g. sexual harassment).

Course Auditing

When a student enrolls in an EP course with “audit” status, the student must reach an understanding with the instructor as to what is required to earn the “audit.” If the student does not meet those expectations, the instructor must notify the EP Registration Team [EP-Registration@exchange.johnshopkins.edu] in order for the student to be retroactively dropped or withdrawn from the course (depending on when the "audit" was requested and in accordance with EP registration deadlines). All lecture content will remain accessible to auditing students, but access to all other course material is left to the discretion of the instructor.