Exams - ISU570 Human Computer Interaction

Professor Futrelle, CCIS, Northeastern University - Fall 2007

Version of October 26th, 2007


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. I will also normally include a "personal" portion based on the material, that you can prepare in advance (though you can't bring written notes about it to look at during the exam).

The Hilbert and Redmiles paper on Extracting Usability Information

This is a link to the PDF.

Preparing for a quiz or exam: Since you will be asked to write your exam, the best preparation, alongside your reading, is to write. For your personal portion that approach is obvious. You write it out in advance and then write it again in your exam book. 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.

N.B. - I probably made twenty changes to the above three paragraphs as I wrote this page. They typically involved rewriting short phrases and inserting commas to get the grouping and pauses right.


Focus topic for Chapter 2: The plusses and minuses of using metaphors.

Focus topic for Chapter 3: The interplay between mental models (held internally) and external cognition (relying on external entities and processes). I will explore this in Tuesday's class, on 9/25.

Your personal portion: Any substantial topic from Chapter 2 or 3 that is not included in the above two focus topics.


The Midterm is closed book, closed notes, lasting one-and-a-half hours, the entire class period. It is based on selected topics in chapters 2 through 8 of the textbook. The material below is designed to focus you on the specific material that you will be responsible for. Of course the questions on the exam can only cover some of the topics below, to fit it into the hour-and-a-half time available.

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 below. Then you'd be ready. At this stage, writing is more important than passively reading, since the test requires that you write. You prepare to write by writing, a theme of pretty well beaten to death throughout the course.

What you need to know for the Midterm

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