CPSC 436 - 500: Computer-Human Interaction

Fall Semester, 2000
Time and place: Tues/Thurs 11:10 - 12:25 HRBB 126
Instructor: Dr. Frank Shipman
Office hours: HRBB 402B, Tues/Thurs 2:00 - 3:00 pm, or by appointment

On-line Resources

Powerpoint slides from Luis' presentation.

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: Human-Computer Interaction, Jenny Preece et al.

On-line materials: To supplement the somewhat dated text book, there will be additional material made available through the class web site:
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%
Final			15%
Team project		20%
Short assignments	25%
Class participation	10%


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:
10% is deducted from your grade for every school day late up to a maximum of one week after the original due date.

Programming for projects:
done in language and operating system of your choice on machines to which you have access.

Class participation:
Most class periods will include a discussion of two chapters from the textbook. Each student will sign up to present a brief (10 minute) overview of the material for one chapter in the book. This will be followed by class discussion of the materials in the textbook and those provided on-line. All students are expected to have done the readings 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-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,
(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 and include all members of the team.

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

Approximate Schedule (subject to change)

Aug. 29		Introduction to class, overview
Aug. 31		Components of HCI, cognitive science		Chapter 1-2
Sept. 5		Frameworks, perception & representation		Chapter 3-4
Sept. 7		Attention, memory, & knowledge			Chapter 5-6
Sept. 12	Mars Medical Assistant (guest lecture)
Sept. 14	Text and Interfaces (guest lecture)
Sept. 19	Project progress reports (topic, cognitive issues, approach)
Sept. 21	Metaphors, models, and learning			Chapter 7-8
Sept. 26	Social and organizational aspects		Chapter 9-10
Sept. 28	Input and output devices			Chapter 11-12
Oct. 3		Exam I (over chapters 1-10 & paths & lectures)
Oct. 5		Interaction styles, windowing systems		Chapter 13-14
Oct. 10		User support, CSCW, virtual environments	Chapter 15-16
Oct. 12		User-centered design				Chapter 17-18
Oct. 17		Requirements gathering & task analysis		Chapter 19-20
Oct. 19		Structured and unstructured design		Chapter 21-22
Oct. 24		Design support and guidelines			Chapter 23-24
Oct. 26		Project progress reports (design, prototyping)
Oct. 31		Standards, metrics, design rationale		Chapter 25-26
Nov. 2		Prototyping, software support for design	Chapter 27-28
Nov. 7		Exam II (chapters 11-22 & paths & lectures)
Nov. 9		Evaluation, collecting data			Chapter 29-30
Nov. 14		Experiments, interpretive evaluation		Chapter 31-32
Nov. 16		Predictive evaluation, comparison of methods	Chapter 33-34
Nov. 21		Special topics
Nov. 28		Project Presentations
Nov. 30		Project Presentations
Dec. 5		Study day
Dec. 8		Final Exam (3-5 pm)