Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) — PSYC / CS 3750 (Spring 2014)

This course will teach you about the importance of the human-computer interface in the design and development of computationally-enabled devices that people use. We will touch on many of the perceptual, cognitive, and social characteristics of people, as well as methods for learning more about the people you wish to use your systems (analyzing the tasks they perform, the way they perform them, the way they think and feel about what they do, etc.). We will discuss the capabilities and limits of computers and other related systems, and discuss how that affects design and implementation decisions.

We will also cover methods of design, and ways to implement, evaluate, and improve a design. The course will be a blend of perceptual/psychological, social, design, and computer science elements. You will work on individual and group projects to learn in a hands-on way about the various stages of an effective design process.

Class objectives:

  • To facilitate communication between students of psychology, design, and computer science on user interface development projects.
  • To provide the future user interface designer with concepts and strategies for making design decisions.
  • To expose the future user interface designer to tools, techniques, and ideas for interface design.
  • To introduce the student to the literature of human-computer interaction.
  • To stress the importance of good user interface design.

Meeting Time: Mon/Wed/Fri – 9:00 to 10:00am

Meeting Place: Klaus 1447

Instructor – Prof. Jim Foley

  • Office: Tech Square Research Building, Room 355
  • Email:
  • Office Hours: After class outside classroom, or by email-arranged appointment

Graduate Teaching Assistant – Mr. Andy Pruett

  • Email:
  • Office Hours: CCB Commons, time TBD

Teaching Assistant – TBD

  • Email:

Text books

There are two required text books for the class. In addition there will be additional reading assigned during the semester.

Interaction Design – Beyond Human-Computer Interaction, Third Edition, by Preece, Rogers and Sharp. Wiley, 2011.
The Design of Everyday Things, by Donald Norman. Currency/Doubleday.
– Any edition OK

Additional Reading

Additional reading will be required. Typically they will be posted as PDFs on the class web site (see schedule page). It is the responsibility of the students to obtain and read the extra material. The material in those extra readings may be included on tests and other evaluations in the class.


Assessment Philosophy: HCI is a very broad, interdisciplinary domain. There is simply a lot of information that an HCI professional needs to know and understand in order to be effective. It takes a number of different sources, a number of different types of learning to gather this breadth of material. Not everything can be covered in the lectures or discussed in class — reading journals and books is neccessary. Not everything can be learned in books either — practice, field work, and team projects are called for. In order to assess your learning of this range of material, it is necessary to have a multitude of assessment techniques. This includes individual and team work; conceptual knowledge and factual recall; calculations and aesthetic judgments; written assignments and in-class exams. It is all important.

Your final grade is made up of  homework assignments, team project, exams, and three 50-minute tests. The weighting of these components is described below.

Unless indicated otherwise on assignments, I expect you to do your own work at all times and to follow the university’s codes of academic conduct and honor code. Cases of suspected inappropriate collaboration or cheating will be immediately forwarded to the Dean of Student Affairs, and will be pursued to resolution. This is an unpleasant process for all involved, so please do not put yourself in this situation.

I expect you to conduct yourself in a professional manner — including coming to classes and exams at the appointed time. Late make-up exams will not be given. If some form of prior commitment prevents a student from taking an exam at the given time, PRIOR arrangements (including documentation where appropriate) should be made with the instructor.

Extra work, during or after the semester, is not available as a way to “bring up” a grade – doing so is not fair to other students.


Three tests will be given, each 50 minutes long.  Most exam questions will reflect the material covered in lecture and assigned reading. The exams will consist mostly of short answer questions, with a few multiple-choice, T-F, and longer essay questions thrown in as well.

Homework Assignments

The goal of the homeworks is to give you practical experience in the processes and methods used in this field. Late homeworks are recorded as a zero, except for exceptional emergency situations.


A semester-long, four-person team-based UI design project is a central element of this course. The project has into four parts, each three to four weeks long. The overall grade for the project will be 44% of your grade, with the four parts each 11% of your grade. The project will have your team develop an alternative interface for some computer-based application. The assignments will have you evaluate users, needs, and tasks in the domain, design a mock-up for a new interface, develop a prototype of that interface, and evaluate your design. The material which you turn in should be presented professionally, and should stress grammatical correctness and clarity. An electronic version of the project will be posted to the Web; a paper version will also be handed in. There will be templates available to let you know more about the format for submitting your work, and to provide some idea of what is expected. You will be judged on your originality, innovativeness, quality of writing, and correctness. Further details will accompany each assignment.

Class Participation

Reading assignments will be specified for each week. You are expected to come to class, and be prepared — that is, having read and having made an attempt to understand the material. You should be ready to discuss the material covered in the lectures and reading. Much of the material in this course is subjective. Feel free to describe your views.


Below is presented the weight of the different course components toward your final grade.

Component  –  Weight

  • HWs – 20%
  • Project – 40%
  • Pop quizzes – 4, 1% each, total 4%
  • Tests – 12% each, total 36%

Participation – Expected

Some Other Comments…

Respect and Consideration: Please, above all, be respectful and considerate of others in the class. It should go without saying, but this includes showing up on time for classes, team meetings, exams, etc. Please turn your cell phone, pager, PDA, or any other alarms and ringers off while you are in class. If you disturb the class (including incoming phone calls), you may be asked to leave.