CPSC 436: Computer-Human Interaction

Spring Semester, 2008
Time and place: T/Th 3:55pm - 5:10pm Room 113 HRBB
Instructor: Dr. Frank Shipman
Office hours: HRBB 404, 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., 2nd edition, John Wiley & Sons

On-line materials:
The textbook will be supplemented by additional material made available at http://www.csdl.tamu.edu/~shipman/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 many of 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 1/22/2008
Assignment 2: due 2/5/2008
Assignment 3: due 3/4/2008
Assignment 4: due 4/24/2008
Final Project Reports: due 4/24/2008

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 four 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.

First phase reports: due Feb. 12 (instructions)
Second phase reports: due March 25 (instructions)

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: (Jan. 15) Class Overview, Syllabus, Introductions

class 2: (Jan. 17) Chapter 1, What is Interaction Design?, slides

class 3: (Jan. 22) Chapter 2, Understanding and Conceptualizing Interaction, slides

class 4: (Jan. 24) Chapter 3, Understanding Users, slides

class 5: (Jan. 29) Chapter 4, Designing for Collaboration and Communication, slides

class 6: (Jan. 31) Chapter 5, Affective Aspects, slides

class 7: (Feb. 5) Chapter 6, Interfaces and Interactions, slides, more slides

class 8: (Feb. 7) Exam I, (over chapters 1-5, supplemental readings & guest lectures)

class 9: (Feb. 12) Project Progress Reports

class 10: (Feb. 14) Chapter 7, Data Gathering, slides

class 11: (Feb. 19) Chapter 8, Data Analysis, Interpretation, and Presentation, slides
Extra Content, Argumentation and IBIS

class 12: (Feb. 21) Chapter 9, The Process of Interaction Design, slides

class 13: (Feb. 26) Interface Design Lecture, Designing for On-line Annotations, slides

class 14: (Feb. 28) Guest Lecture, Design Exploration

class 15: (March 4) Chapter 10, Identifying Needs and Establishing Requirements, slides

class 16: (March 6) Interface Design Lecture, Hyper-Hitchcock, slides

class 17: (March 18) Interface Design Lecture, Document Triage, slides

class 18: (March 20) Exam II, (over chapters 6-10, supplemental readings & interface design and guest lectures), what you need to know.

class 19: (March 25) Project Progress Reports

class 20: (March 27) Chapter 11, Design, Prototyping, and Construction, slides

class 21: (April 1) Chapter 12, Introducing Evaluation, slides

class 22: (April 3) Project Work Day

class 23: (April 8) Chapter 13, An Evaluation Framework, slides
Chapter 14, Usability Testing and Field Studies, slides

class 24: (April 10) Chapter 15, Analytical Evaluation, slides

class 25: (April 15) Guest Lecture, Intelligent User Interfaces, slides

class 26: (April 17) Exam III, (over chapters 11-15, supplemental readings & interface design and guest lectures), what you need to know.

class 27: (April 22) Final Project Presentations

class 28: (April 24) 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. You can find Microsoft Word, RTF and Maker Interchange File templates 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.