IS 4300 – Human-Computer Interaction


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Fall 2016

Meeting MonWed 2:50-4:30

Location: WVG 108

4 sem hrs


Prof. Timothy Bickmore

(617) 373-5477

Office: 177-911

Office Hours: Th 4-5:30




Stefan Olafsson


Office: 177-9th

Office Hours: Wed 11-12







This course provides an introduction to and overview of the field of human-computer interaction (HCI). HCI is an interdisciplinary field that integrates theories and methodologies from computer science, cognitive psychology, design, and many other areas. Course readings will focus on current practice in interface specification, design and evaluation, with a few additional readings in current HCI research. Students will work on both individual and team projects to design, implement and evaluate computer interfaces.

The central focus of the course is a semester-long project, in which students will design, implement and evaluate a user interface. Students will be incrementally led through the phases of ethnographic study and requirements analysis, scenario-based design, paper prototyping, computer prototyping, and several methods of usability analysis and evaluation. The course also involves an introduction to software architectures used in modern graphical user interfaces, including the implementation of a few simple interfaces using the Java Swing toolkit.





CS 3500. You must be comfortable programming in a high-level language, and able to become proficient in Java basics by mid-semester on your own. There are several homeworks and project assignments that require programming. 


Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

  • Design, implement and evaluate effective and usable graphical computer interfaces.
  • Describe and apply core methodologies from the field of HCI.
  • Implement simple graphical user interfaces using the Java Swing toolkit.



Required: Designing Interactive Systems, Third Edition by David Benyon, Pearson (2014).


Optional/Recommended: Substantial readings will be drawn from the following three texts. 


Usability Engineering: Scenario-Based Development of Human-Computer Interaction by Rosson, M. and Carroll, J.


Usability Engineering  by Nielsen, J.

The Design of Everyday Things by Norman, D.


Additional readings will be provided online.


Course Requirements

This course requires a significant amount of work outside of the classroom. A typical week will consist of:

  • Reading approximately 50 pages from the textbooks and research papers.
  • Working on an individual homework assignment, encompassing ethnographic studies, evaluation of existing interfaces, and programming or design exercises, and writing a report on the results.
  • Working on part of a project and writing a progress report.
  • Describing and discussing homework results in class.




Grades will be based on the following:

  • Quizzes (10%).
  • Class participation (10%).
  • Individual homework (25% divided equally among assignments).
  • Project (30%, comprised of 10% for each of P1-P8, 20% for P9).
  • Final Exam (25%)


Class Format

A typical three-hour class will consist of:

  1. Quiz
  2. Review of previous week’s assignments, including presentation and discussion by randomly selected students.
  3. Lecture.
  4. In-class activity.
  5. Discussion of next week’s assignments.


Course Rules

Academic Honesty. Individual homework assignments must be each student’s own work. Team projects must be the work of the students in the team. Plagiarism or cheating will result in official University and CCIS disciplinary review.


Missed Exams. There are no makeup quizzes, but the lowest quiz grade will be dropped. Per CCIS policy, there will be NO MAKEUP OR ALTERNATE EXAM TIMES for the final. You must plan to be on campus the day the registrar schedules the exam for, otherwise you will receive an F.


Due Dates. Work due on a given day must be posted online by noon so that it can be reviewed in class.


Late Assignments. Assignments (individual and team) that are turned in late are automatically lowered one grade. Assignments will not be accepted more than one week late.  Because the project activities each week build on the prior weeks’ results, students are strongly encouraged to turn in their work on time in whatever state it is in.


Etiquette. Please keep cell phones silent during class. If your texting/talking/emailing/gaming activities during class are deemed disruptive, you will be asked to leave.


Team Projects. Students will be given the option of working in teams of 2-4 students on their project at the beginning of the semester (no more than three students per team). At the request of any student, at the time of any team project assignment deadline, teams will be split into individual projects.