Laboratory for Designing Work Environments


The Laboratory for Designing Work Environments aims to support the activities and applicative aspects of research relative to the design and definition of environments for communication, with particular attention to the influence that the use of technologies has on the content of work and daily activities and on the creation of new communities of practice.


Research focuses on the study and analysis of the activities performed in different contexts of daily life, during work and free time, which mutually influence each other, causing practices and tools to evolve. Research methods range from the definition of user requirements to the analysis of tasks performed and the tools used to perform an activity, the analysis of flows of communication and interaction, etc.


General objectives

-To promote, from an interdisciplinary point of view, theoretical-applicative research on designing environments for communication in the work setting and in the contexts of daily life;

-To foster an increasingly closer link between research and teaching, with special attention to the orientation of near-graduates;

-To provide students with the opportunity to practise their skills and do internships within the University.


The laboratory’s activities focus mainly on:

-The analysis of human activity

-The study of principles for the design of tools for communication and teaching

-Evaluation methodologies for the interaction with technological artefacts

-The study of the cognitive and emotional aspects of behaviour

-The study of the relationship between emotion and cognition in learning

-Sensory communication


Its most recent activity has mainly focused on the analysis of human behaviour and the relationship between emotion and cognition in different spheres such as education, health and safety, human factors, sensory communication.

Research is conducted using methodologies such as ethnographic observation, interviews, focus groups, questionnaires, scenarios.


Current research activity:

Studies in the educational/training field

- E-learning and traditional learning environments: the relationship between emotion and cognition. (Study conducted in collaboration with the Language Center of the University of Siena)

Studies in the communicative-health field

- Rare illnesses and communication. Cognitive and emotional aspects of communication on the websites of Associations of patients with rare illnesses.

- Development and research on innovative methodologies in continuing education in medicine.

Explorative studies on sensory communication

- Observation of the behavioural response of people with cognitive, motor, sensory deficits when presented with stimuli that entail the use of different sensory channels: music, dance, theatre, painting. (Study conducted in collaboration with the departments of Child Neuropsychiatry and Neonatology of the Polyclinic Hospital Santa Maria alle Scotte in Siena).

Project “S.P.Acca – Stress and the Perception of Unethical Behaviours in the Academic Setting”

Stress at work not only influences the state of our health, but can also have repercussions on our “ethical reasoning”, favouring the enactment of behaviours that contradict our values. Contextual circumstances that can produce stress (such as job uncertainty, frequent socio-organisational changes, isolation at work, insufficient possibilities to manage operative procedures) may lead to a deterioration of cognitive and emotional resources and contribute to facilitating the causes that lead to the enactment of incorrect behaviours.


In the academic context, morality holds a particular importance and prominence for the pursuit of scientific research that is ethically sustainable. It is therefore important to verify the existence of a correlation between stress levels experienced by teaching staff, perceptions relative to the occurrence of unethical behaviour and the attributions of judgment regarding the seriousness of these behaviours.

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