IS 4300: Human-Computer Interaction

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Spring 2012 Mondays and Thu 11:45-1:25
Location: 022 International Village
4 sem hrs


Professor Elisabeth Sylvan
email: ...@neu...
Office Hours are after class or arranged via email
mailing list:


Prerequisite: CS 3500

This course provides an overview of the field of human-computer interaction (HCI). HCI is an interdisciplinary field that integrates theories and methodologies from computer science, psychology, design, and many other areas. The course will provide perspective on people's perceptual, cognitive and social abilities. We will learn methods for to understand people's needs and expectations as they interact with technological systems. The course readings will focus on current practice in interface specification, design and evaluation, with a few additional readings in current HCI research. Upon successful completion of this course, you should be able to design, implement and evaluate effective and usable graphical computer interfaces and describe and apply core methodologies from the field of HCI.

The central focus of the course is a semester-long team project, in which you will design, implement and evaluate a user interface. Teams will be work through multiple development phases of ethnographic study and requirements analysis, scenario-based design, paper prototyping, computer prototyping, and usability analysis and evaluation.

A typical week will consist of 1) reading approximately 50 pages from the textbooks and research papers, 2) responding to questions about the readings, 3) working on an individual homework assignment, encompassing ethnographic studies, evaluation of existing interfaces, and programming or design exercises, and writing a report on the results, 4) working on part of a team project and writing a progress report and 5) discussing readings, homework, and projects in class.

Please purchase the book, The Design of Everyday Things, by Donald Norman, Currency/Doubleday, 1990. Many used copies are available on and beyond. Additional readings will be provided via the schedule.


Grades will be based on the following: personal course web site (10%), reading responses (10%) class participation (10%), homework (30%), team project and presentation (40%). Grades will be emailed to you.

All reading reponses, homework and team projects are due 5 PM the night before class. Reading responses will be graded on a check plus, che ck, check minus scale, late responses will not be accepted, and two sets will be dropped. Homework will be graded on a scale from 1 to 10. Team projects and homework that are turned in late are automatically lowered one grade per day and must be turned in before the next class session. Your class participation grade includes attendance, participating in class, and student interface finds. Every week at the beginning of class you will sign in, which will count towards your grade.

Exceptions can be made in cases of dire issues, but, when possible, let me know ahead of time.

Suggestion: This class builds on itself and has many out-of-class assignments. If you stay on top of top of your work every week, you will find this class much more rewarding and less stressful than if you wait until the last minute or fall behind.


If assignments and due dates are changed through the semester, changes will be announced in class and the web site will be updated.

If you have questions about material or assignments or are struggling, please contact me via email or after class. I am happy to set up a time to meet with you face-to-face. I will do my best to response to your emails within 24 hours except on the weekends and spring break. I will not answer questions about assignments after 5 pm the night before the due date unless we have made a previous arrangement.

Keep your cell phone off (not in silent mode) during class. If you take notes with a laptop, that's fine, but close email, Facebook, and other distractors. If you find your laptop to be too distracting, take notes on paper. If you actions in class are viewed as distracting to yourself or others, you will be asked to leave.

Individual homework assignments must be each student’s own work. Team projects must be the work of the students in the team. Plagiarism or cheating will result in official University disciplinary review.

Please remember that grades are not negotiable.  Grades are earned on the basis of performance, not given on the basis of effort or need. If you would like to contest a grade, you will need to do so in an email in which you indicate the assignment of concern and explain what you feel is faulty about the grade.