CPSC 436 - 500: Computer-Human Interaction

Fall Semester, 2004
Time and place: Tues/Thurs 3:55 - 5:10 HRBB 113
Instructors: Dr. Frank Shipman, Unmil P. Karadkar
Office hours: Dr. Frank Shipman:
HRBB 402B, Wed. 3:00 - 4:00 PM, or by appointment (email: shipman@cs.tamu.edu)
                        Unmil P. Karadkar:
HRBB 408-F,  Tues. Fri. 10:30 - 11:30 AM or by appointment (email: unmil@cs.tamu.edu)

On-line Resources

Supplemental readings and Presentation schedule
Assignment 1: (Handed out 9/2/2004, due 9/9/2004).
Project Report stage 1 turn-in  and presentation instructions (Posted 9/6/2004, due 9/16/2004).
Assignment 2: (Handed out 9/9/2004, due 9/23/2004).
The Humanities Informatics Website
Avoiding logical fallacies
Assignment 3: (Handed out 10/14/2004, due 10/21/2004).
Project Report stage 2 turn-in  and presentation instructions (Posted 10/18/2004, due 10/26/2004).
Term Project demonstration schedule (Posted 11/06/2004).
Assignment 4: (Handed out 11/09/2004, Due: 11/23/2004)
Term Project Final Report and Demonstration guidelines (Posted 11/08/2004)
Assignment 5: (Handed out 11/09/2004, Due: 12/07/2004)

Description of Course

This class provides an introductory level survey of human-computer interaction, its history and techniques. This course will cover (1) cognitive and social models and limitations, (2) hardware and software interface components, (3) design methods, (4) support for design, and (5) evaluation methods.


Students should have a basic knowledge of programming complex systems and be able to learn new software tools on their own.

Reading materials

Textbook: Interaction Design - beyond human-computer interaction, Jenny Preece et al., John Wiley & Sons, ISBN: 0-471-49278-7

On-line materials: The textbook will be supplemented by additional material made available through the class web site loacted at http://www.csdl.tamu.edu/~shipman/courses/cpsc436/home.html (this page).

This material will include useful pointers and references for your projects and homeworks. Questions about the on-line materials will be included on the exams.


Exam I			15%
Exam II 15%
Exam III 15%
Team project 20%
Short assignments 25%
Class participation 10%

Homeworks and short assigments

There will be a number of assignments due in class. These assignments may require use of specific software outside of class time and will take the form of short essays, written answers to questions, and design documents. All material turned in should be printed using a computer printer or typed except when noted otherwise.

Homework late policy:
Homework is due at the beginning of  class session on the due date. 10% is deducted from your grade for every school day late up to a maximum of one week after the original due date.

Individual Assignment Topics:
During the course of the semester there will be a number of assignments that will involve considering the design of a particular class of computer interface. Below is a list of applications that may be helpful when coming up with a topic.

Example topics: word processor, spreadsheet, Internet browser, operating / file system, tax preparation software, drawing program, image processing software, inventory software, retail checkout software, presentation software, encyclopedia, dictionary / thesaurus, first-person action game, strategy game, ATM software, VCR software, videoconferencing software, meeting room whiteboard software, visual programming environment, math tutoring software, medical information software, air traffic control software, home design software, legal advice software, electronic textbook, music composition software, video editing software, home-control software, grocery shopping system, airline reservations system, foreign language translator, project management software, system debugging software, scanning / OCR software, real estate / rental location tool, electronic mail reader, computer chat system, peronalized newspaper, computerized roadmap, idea generation tool, visualization software, real-time shared editor, calendar / meeting scheduling system, algorithm visualization tool, software debugging tool, WWW visualization tool

Class participation

Most class periods will include a discussion of one chapter from the textbook along with supplemental materials. Each student will sign up to present a brief (~5 minute) overview of the supplemental readings. This will be followed by class discussion of the materials in the textbook and those provided on-line. All students are expected to have read the materials and be able to participate in discussions. Lectures and discussions will include material not in the book that will be covered by the exams.


Students will form three to five person teams and define a semester project. There will be two preliminary progress reports for the projects emphasizing particular phases of the interface design process:
(1) identifying a topic, determining cognitive and social issues, and determining an approach. Also identify the task(s) to be performed by each team member.
(2) creating an initial system design, and instantiating the design in a prototype implementation.
The final project report will also require the design of an evaluation procedure for refining the resulting interface. The in-class presentations of project progress will be 5-6 minutes long and the final presentation on the project will be 15 minutes long.

Programming for projects:
Done in language and operating system of your choice on machines to which you have access. It is your responsibility to ensure that your project can be demonstrated in the classroom.

Approximate Schedule (subject to change)

Aug. 31Introduction to class, overview
Sept. 2Chapter 1: Interaction Design, supplemental readings
Sept. 7Chapter 2: Understanding and Conceptulizing Interaction, supplemental readings
Sept. 9Guest Lecture (Cervantes Project, Picasso Project, Interactive Storytelling Engine--Slides)
Sept. 14Chapter 3: Understanding Users, supplemental readings
Sept. 16Project progress reports (topic, cognitive issues, approach, task distribution)
Sept. 21Chapter 4: Designing for Collaboration and Communication, supplemental readings
Sept. 23Chapter 5: Understanding How Interfaces Affect Users, supplemental readings
Sept. 28Guest Lecture (Visual Knowledge Builder, Graphical Requirements Exploration)
Sept. 30Exam I (over chapters 1-5, supplemental readings & guest lectures)
Oct. 5Chapter 6: The Process of Interaction Design, supplemental readings
Oct. 7Chapter 7: Identifying Needs and Establishing Requirements, supplemental readings
Oct. 12 Chapter 8: Design, Prototyping and Construction, supplemental readings
Oct. 14Guest Lecture(MASH presentation)
Oct. 19Chapter 9: User-centered Approaches to Interaction Design, supplemental readings
Oct. 21 Guest Lecture (Cathy Marshall)
Oct. 26Project progress reports (design, prototyping)
Oct. 28 Chapter 10: Introducing Evaluation, supplemental readings
Nov. 2 Exam II (over chapters 6-10, supplemental readings & guest lectures)
Nov. 4Chapter 11: An Evaluation Framework, supplemental readings
Nov. 9Chapter 12: Observing Users, supplemental readings
Nov. 11Chapter 13: Asking Users and Experts, supplemental readings
Nov. 16Chapter 14: Testing and Modeling Users, supplemental readings
Nov. 18No classes - Bonfire memorial inauguration?
Nov. 23Chapter 15: Design and Evaluation in the Real World, supplemental readings
Nov. 25Thanksgiving - no class
Nov. 30Exam III (over chapters 11-15, supplemental readings & guest lectures)
Dec. 2Project Presentations
Dec. 7Project Presentations

Avoiding Academic Dishonesty

 Scholarly dishonesty, especially plagiarism, will not be tolerated. The Aggie Honor System office (http://www.tamu.edu/aggiehonor/) provides valuable resources for understanding and avoiding academic dishonesty (http://www.tamu.edu/aggiehonor/studentresources.php) It is your responsibility to read this information and make sure that you understand it. If you are unsure of whether or not you should do something, ask first.