Exams - ISU570 Human Computer Interaction

Professor Futrelle, CCIS, Northeastern University - Spring 2009

Version of April, 2009


Quizzes and exams will be closed book, closed notes. I will give guidance on what you need to focus on, so you won't feel responsible for hundreds of pages of text with no focus.

Preparing for a quiz or exam: Since you will be asked to write your exam, the best preparation, alongside your reading, is to write. Since you are given focus topics, you should write out some material on those, to get use to formulating ideas about them using the correct vocabulary (and spelling!). For exams, your audience is the person(s) who will be grading it, not another student as in your report writing. But as always, you must be clear. If you throw around a lot of specialized terminology and give no evidence that you understand it, that is not good. Your goal is to indicate that you understand the material and the answers you give, and that the answers are appropriate to the question; they answer the question.

Many have said, and correctly, that good writing requires that good editing is done. When you're writing a report, keep looking it over and editing it to tighten it up, get rid of useless fillers, get the "flow" right, and so forth. Even on an exam, if things don't look right, cross out some material and stick in something better. Please don't waste your time erasing things. If you erase things habitually, it's a habit worth breaking. You can always just cross out an answer and write it again on other pages of your blue book. Of course, you can have an additional blue book if you need it.

Please do not run your answers together. Each answer should start on a new page.

N.B. - The key to good writing is editing: I probably made twenty changes to the paragraphs above as I wrote this page. They typically involved rewriting short phrases and inserting commas to get the grouping and pauses right.

QUIZ #1, FRIDAY, JANUARY 23rd on the Norman chapter handout

The quiz will focus on terminology, concepts, examples that he discussed extensively in his chapter. The quiz will avoid things that were only mentioned briefly. As I have suggested, writing out some of the main ideas while not looking at the handout is probably the best way to prepare for the quiz.

Comments by Professor Futrelle after grading Quiz #1, focusing on choice #1 - The lighting system:

Some answers were written in quite general terms, not getting down to specifics. Saying that something is "visible" or "easy to use" is not enough if no details are given.

Some answers focused too much on individual lights without any overall control. Beyond that, some said little or nothing about time schedules.

Different schedules for single rooms or an entire apartment could be edited, named, and saved. The schedules could be tied to the known sunrise and sunset times. The lack of an overall control architecture was the missing element in many answers.

There were a number of good ideas in the answers, including:

o Seeing the brightness on a room or entire apt. plan (I'd add that a time run-through on such a plan would give a nice overview.)

o Having an "automation wizard" that takes a user through setting up rooms, the entire apt. and schedules was a good idea.

o A clever idea was to have a simple light sensor in each room. When a light went on and no change in brightness was detected, it means a bulb had burned out.

o Many suggested a system that would sense people entering and leaving a room - could be complicated with a variety of activities, not to mention distinguishing a large dog from a two-year old. All such ideas that related to energy savings were good ideas.

o A cheap web cam in each room would give a picture, a live feed, of the current lighting situation.

There would be no need to have an individual control computer in each room, since that could all be done by an iPhone or similar device carried by one or more of the occupants.


Notes on preparing for the quiz can be found here.


The midterm will last one-and-a-half hours, the entire class period. Details about what you need to be ready to answer are on this page.

My suggestion on how to study for the exam would be for you to go through the book and write out some notes on each of the topics I've listed. Then you'd be ready. In preparing for a test, writing is more important than passively reading, since the test requires that you write. You prepare to write by writing, a theme pretty well beaten to death throughout the course.

FINAL EXAM, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 22nd - 8AM in room 158 Ryder

A page, "What you need to know" (for the Final) can be found here.


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