CPSC 436: Computer-Human Interaction

Fall Semester, 2006
Time and place: T/Th 2:20pm - 3:35pm Room 113 HRBB
Instructors: Dr. Frank Shipman, Dr. Haowei Hsieh
Office hours: HRBB 402B & 402D, TBA, or by appointment

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.

Readings (all required)

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 at http://www.csdl.tamu.edu/~haowei/courses/cpsc436/supplemental-readings.html. Note that you have to be on the Texas A&M University computer network, or be using TAMU VPN, to access these documents.

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.

Assignment List (to be updated throughout the semester)
Assignment 1: due 9/7/2006
Assignment 2: due 9/28/2006
Assignment 3: due 10/17/2006
Final Project Reports: due 12/05/2006

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 two to three 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)

class 1: (Aug. 29) Class Overview, Syllabus, Introductions

class 2: (Aug. 31) Chapter 1, Interaction Design, slides

class 3: (Sept. 5) Chapter 2, Understanding and Conceptualizing Interaction, slides

class 4: (Sept. 7) Chapter 3, Understanding Users, slides

class 5: (Sept. 12) Chapter 4, Designing for Collaboration and Communication, slides

class 6: (Sept. 14) Chapter 5, Understanding How Interfaces Affect Users, slides

class 7: (Sept. 19) Project Progress Reports

class 8: (Sept. 21) Exam I, (over chapters 1-5, supplemental readings & guest lectures)

class 9: (Sept. 26) Chapter 6, The Process of Interaction Design, slides

class 10: (Sept. 28) Guest Lecture, Visualization and Spatial Hypertext

class 11: (Oct. 3) Chapter 7, Identifying Needs and Establishing Requirements, slides

class 12: (Oct. 5) Chapter 8, Design, Prototyping, and Construction, slides

class 13: (Oct. 10) Guest Lecture, Walden's Paths & Managing Distributed Libraries

class 14: (Oct. 12) Chapter 9, User-Centered Approaches to Interaction Design, slides

class 15: (Oct. 17) Guest Lecture, Design Exploration

class 16: (Oct. 19) Guest Lecture, Intelligent User Interfaces, slides

class 17: (Oct. 24) Project Progress Reports

class 18: (Oct. 26) Chapter 10, Introducing Evaluation, slides

class 19: (Oct. 31) Exam II, (over chapters 6-10, supplemental readings & guest lectures)

class 20: (Nov. 2) Guest Lecture, Interfaces for Managing Personal Music Collections

class 21: (Nov. 7) Guest Lecture, Interfaces to Scholarly Collections

class 22: (Nov. 9) Chapter 11, An Evaluation Framework, slides

class 23: (Nov. 14) Chapter 12, Observing Users, slides

class 24: (Nov. 16) Chapter 13, Asking Users and Experts, slides

class 25: (Nov. 21) Chapter 14, Testing and Modeling Users, slides
A cool input device.

class 26: (Nov. 28) Chapter 15, Design and Evaluation in the Real World, slides
Project overview on Hyper-Hitchcock.

class 27: (Nov. 30) Exam III, (over chapters 11-15, supplemental readings & guest lectures)

class 28: (Dec. 5) Final Project Presentations

Final Report Format

Your final project reports is to be 8-12 pages formatted according to the ACM Conference Format. You can cut and paste into this format and use the paragraph styles provided. Here is a link to the MS Word Template. You can find RTF and Maker Interchange File formats at this ACM SIGCHI page.

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. 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.