Human-Computer Interaction

CSC-347 Fall 2014

Course website and syllabus:

Quick Links: Moodle


Andrea Tartaro

General Information


To give you a feel for some of the different perspectives in HCI, readings for the course come from various texts as well as research articles. All readings are available on Moodle.


The majority of the assignments are building blocks of the quarter long project developing an application. The theme for this year's projects is social interaction and technology.

The focus of the project is the design process, rather than building a robust application, and emphasizes working as a design team with users at each stage of design. The assignments are designed to not only introduce you to different design techniques, but also develop skills you would use as an HCI practitioner or researcher: collaboration (including division of labor), writing and presenting. After the first assignment, you will form project groups that you will work with for the remainder of the semester. Deliverables for each assignment will include (at least) a proposal for division of labor and schedule, group written report, group class presentation, group project journal, and an individual reflection. There may be additional deliverables in the assignment. Your audience for the reports and presentations will be someone who knows about usability engineering but is not familiar with your particular project. Assignment descriptions, detailing requirements and deliverables, will be provided for each assignment on Moodle. Read each carefully: they may include additional due dates for email approval of your plans for the assignment. I will also handout and discuss each assignment in class. Your final submission at the end of the term will be a project portfolio that includes your previous graded assignments (see below).

Division of Labor and Schedule: For each group assignment, you must propose a plan for division of labor - who will do what on the assignment. You will also come up with a project schedule with weekly checkpoints. You can come up with the plan as a group, and I will let you know if I see any problems. Division of labor and schedule should be submitted via email by the Thursday following the day the assignment goes out. Division of labor and schedule is worth 5% of your grade.

Written Report: Each assignment will detail what should be included in the written report. Your group should submit one report to which all members have contributed.

Class Presentation: Your presentations for all project assignments except the User Observation should be 10-15 minutes (not including questions/comments from peers) and presented as a group. Every group member must present during every presentation. Class presentations should be interactive with the class. This is your chance to get feedback and input from your classmates, and give feedback to your classmates when they are presenting. Ask for input on aspects of your projects, and offer thoughtful feedback to your classmates. The User Observation presentation is individual and should be about 3 minutes.

Project Journal: You should maintain a project journal over the course of the term. This journal should include an entry for each meeting that includes 2 or more members of your group (including meetings that occur during lab time). You could think of the entries as "meeting minutes." For each assignment, submit only the journal entries since the previous assignment. Include all entries with your final project portfolio submission (what you will hand in at the end of the term). Entries should be brief; they do not have to be written in complete sentences. Please use the following format:

  1. Date and time of meeting.
  2. Group members in attendance. Reasons for any absence of group members. Note that someone might not be involved in a given meeting depending on how you divide up work. Thus, "not relevant because..." is a one possible reason.
  3. Reason for meeting (1-3 bullet points; examples: "Choose a topic for our project"; "Assign project roles").
  4. Outcome of meeting (2-5 bullet points; examples: "Decided to do project that..."; "Assigned following group roles: John will maintain the meeting journal...").

Individual Reflections: Your individual reflection should be a minimum of one page (single-spaced, two pages max) and detail, from your perspective:

  1. What each member, including yourself, contributed to the assignment.
  2. What each member, including yourself, did well.
  3. What each member, including yourself, could have done better and how.
  4. What you did well as a group.
  5. What you could have done better as a group and how.
  6. How you would divide up an imaginary $500 bonus to your group and why.

The individual reflection will be taken very seriously and is worth 5% of your final grade:

  1. Working with anyone else on your reflection will be treated as academic dishonesty (a.k.a. cheating - see below). Do not dicuss what you wrote in your reflection before, during or even after writing it with anyone except me.
  2. You must hand in all individual reflections to pass the class.

The late policy applies to the individual reflection and affects your assignment grade (see below).

Project Portfolio: At the end of the term you will submit a portfolio that includes all your work over the course of the class. The details will be described in the final project assignment, but note that this will include your graded work with my comments. Take care not to misplace your graded assignments! I repeat, do not lose your homework!

Handing in assignments: Your presentation will be given in lab the day each assignment is due. Hard copies of your written report, project journal entries and other deliverables are also due at the beginning of lab. One group member should also submit an electronic copy of your assignment on Moodle as a .zip file by 15 minutes prior to lab (2:15). Please email me your individual reflections (also due by 2:15); no in-class hard copy is necessary. Please include the individual reflection in the body of the email, not as an attachment.

Additional Assignments

Article Presentation: Each student will give one presentation and lead a discussion on a research article. The presentation should be about 20 minutes (including discussion) and prepared by Tuesday's class (although it may be given on Thursday, depending on the schedule for that week). Your presentation should include: the research question; the author's argument; an overview of the evidence the author uses to make this argument; reflection on the strengths and weaknesses of the paper; reflection on how the article relates to other things we've read in the class; and three discussion questions. I STRONGLY recommend you meet with me during office hours, or schedule an appointment, to go over your presentation and discussion questions prior to class. I will provide an article, but you are welcome to find one on your own if you prefer. However, your article must be approved 2 weeks in advance.

Design Blog: You will keep a weekly design blog, and read and comment on your classmates' design blogs, each week that we have a full week of classes (T&Th), starting with week 2. These due dates are indicated on Moodle. You have 2 free passes - you must complete 10 blog entries. Please read the details in the assignment description on Moodle. Blogs are due Thursdays, 15 minutes prior to class (12:45pm).

Input/Output Article Presentation: You will find and present a conference article about an interesting input and/or output technique. Create a one-slide presentation about an article of your choosing. Conference suggestions: CHI, Interact, Interaction Design and Children, SIGGRAPH, etc. A pdf of the article is due to me Friday before class. Email or see me if you want help finding or choosing an article. NOTE: There is no additional handout for this assignment.

Attendance and Participation: Finally, class attendance and participation is a critical component of the course. Contribute to class discussions, ask and answer questions during lecture, and participate in design exercises. Be prepared to answer short questions about previously covered material and readings (either oral or written).


The ability to work in a group is needed for almost any project you work on in life - be it professional or "for fun." People often assume that it is obvious how to work in a group, but group work techniques can be learned and developed. One of my goals is for you to leave this course understanding how to successfully work with a team on an HCI project. The following grading scheme is designed to help you work successfully as a group, and for me to assess your team dynamics and help you if there are problems.

Your assignment grade on each group assignment will be comprised of 50% of your group grade and 50% of an individual grade. It is my expectation that these grades will be the same. However, your individual grade can be different (lower or higher) if there is compelling evidence that it should be (it can also be affected by your individual reflection). Groups where one or more individuals' grades are different will be required to meet with me prior to the next class meeting after receiving your grades. If all team members are not available for 15 minutes at some point during my office hours, please email me with any and all times you would be available for 15 minutes.

Late Assignments: Due to class scheduling, presentations must be given on the day they are due. Each project presentation is worth 15% of your grade for that assignment. Written reports and individual reflections turned in late will drop your grade for the assignment one full letter grade per day (late individual reflections will apply only to that individual's assignment grade). For example, reports handed in after 2:15 on the due date, but before 2:15 the next day have a max grade of B. If your individual reflection is late, your assignment grade will be lowered one full letter grade for that individual. Late blog posts are not accepted - if you post after 12:45pm on Thursday, that blog entry counts for the next week.

Grade calculation for group project assignments: Your grade for a group project assignment is essentially calculated as followed. I calculate your group grade: 15% is the presentation, 5% is the division of labor and schedule, remaining 80% depends on the assignment (there will be a rubric). Your individual grade starts out as your group grade. This grade can then be adjusted based on compelling evidence that your grade should be higher or lower. Again, my expectation is that it will be the same. Your assignment grade is then calculated as 50% group grade and 50% individual grade. Late assignment adjustments are made to this assignment grade.

Assignment Goal Individual or Group Grade Weight Due
Project Assignment 1:
User Observation
Identify a context where social interaction occurs and technology could potentially be used that interests you and uncover user needs, goals, artifacts and usage patterns with an eye towards understanding problems and revealing opportunities for design. Individual 5%
M 9/8
Project Assignment 2:
Requirements Analysis
Understand the people, technology and physical, as well as social, context that play a role in the problem area for which you are designing. Group 10%
M 9/22
Project Assignment 3:
Conceptual Design
Generate a huge body of design ideas for your problem area in a systematic way. Group 10%
M 10/6
Project Assignment 4:
Paper Prototype
Try out and test different design scenarios. Group 10%
M 10/27
Input/Output Article Presentation Find and present an interesting input and/or output technique. Individual 5% T 10/28
Project Assignment 5:
High Fidelity Prototype and Evaluation Proposal
Develop an initial prototype of your system, conduct a heuristic evaluation, write the protocol for a usability study, and pilot test your plan. Group 10%
M 11/17
Final Project Assignment:
Functional Prototype, Evaluation and Proposed Re-design
Carry out a usability study of a functional prototype of your system and make changes to the system based on the results. Group 15%
T 12/16, Noon
Research Article Presentation Discuss recent research in the field of HCI related to the topics we are covering. Individual 10% T (randomly assigned)
Design Blog Open your eyes to good and bad design, and generate discussion that applies reading and class content to real world design examples. Individual 10%
Thursdays before class
Individual Reflections Reflect on how your group worked together to complete each assignment. Individual 5%
With each assignment.
Class Participation Contribute thoughtfully to class discussions, in-class exercises and presentations. Offer thoughtful responses to peers during presentations. Answer questions about readings and previously covered materials. Individual 10%
each class and lab

Policies, etc.


Class participation is a critical component of the course and attendance is mandatory. In addition, there are numerous hands-on activities and in-class exercises. Please discuss any necessary absences (eg. athletics, religious holidays, emergency, illness) with me PRIOR to class. You may be asked to make up for missed material. You will not receive credit for make-up material if you did not discuss your absence with me prior to class.

Email Policy

It is a course requirement to check your email at least once per day. Important announcements regarding assignments and class meetings will be sent via email.

Students with Disabilities

It is the policy of Furman University to make reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities. I encourage students with disabilities to make an appointment to meet with me as soon as possible to discuss accommodations that might help facilitate your learning. You will need appropriate documentation from the University's Disability Services Coordinator. All discussions will remain confidential.

Academic Integrity

Scholastic dishonesty is misrepresenting someone else's work as your own, which is a form of stealing, and will not be tolerated. You are responsible for reading and understanding Furman's policies regarding Academic Conduct. If you need help understanding how and when to cite sources, please see me.


Available on Moodle.