Course Syllabus

Basic Information

CS/Psych-770 Human-Computer Interaction, Fall 2017

Class time: Tuesdays 2:25 pm - 5:25 pm, September 12 (first class) - December 12 (last class)

Classroom: Educational Sciences, 212 

Instructor: Professor Bilge Mutlu, associate professor and director of the HCI Lab

Office Hours: Thursdays 12-1 pm, Computer Sciences, 6381 (or by appointment)

Textbook: Research Methods in Human-Computer Interaction, Second Edition*
by Jonathan Lazar, Jinjuan Heidi Feng, Harry Hochheiser, Morgan Kaufmann (2017)

* Digital version of the book is freely available through the UW-Madison library via ScienceDirect. You will have to be on campus or log-in using your NetID to access the book. If you would like to purchase the print version, it is available on for around ~$70.

Course Overview

This course is designed to introduce graduate students in computer science, psychology, educational psychology, and others topics to principles of and research methods in human-computer interaction (HCI), an interdisciplinary area concerned with the study of the interaction between humans and interactive computing systems. Research in HCI looks at major cognitive and social phenomena surrounding human use of computers with the goal of understanding their impact and creating guidelines for the design and evaluation of software and physical products and services in industry.

The course consists of three modules: (1) principles of and literature in HCI through a set of readings, class presentations, and discussions, (2) empirical methods for exploratory and experimental human-subjects research in online lectures and tutorials and weekly assignments, and (3) a group project in which student teams will practice these principles and research methods in an application domain.

While the course is designed primarily for graduate students in computer science, psychology, and educational psychology, advanced undergraduates in these programs and graduate students from other programs may take the course with the permission of the instructor. Specifically, these students should meet with the instructor after the first class of the semester or during the first office hours of the semester to discuss their enrollment. No prerequisites are required to take the course.

Course Structure

The course is designed to follow three modules — (1) principles of HCI, (2) human subjects research methods, and (3) project — and each hour of the three-hour class will focus on each module in this order. While there will be exceptions, e.g., project work spilling over to the second hour or the third component ending early, we will follow this format.

Module 1: Principles of HCI

Principles of and literature in HCI is reviewed through a set of readings. Below is a list of topics that will are covered in this module. A comprehensive list of readings on these topics will be posted on the course website.

  1. History and Foundations of HCI
  2. Research Frameworks in HCI
  3. Modeling Social and Emotional Processes
  4. Computer-Mediated Communication
  5. Social and Embodied Interfaces I
  6. Social and Embodied Interfaces II
  7. Computer-Supported Collaborative Work
  8. Speech Interfaces
  9. Games
  10. Crowdsourcing
  11. Information Visualization
  12. Ubiquitous Computing
  13. Assistive and Accessible Interfaces
  14. Future of HCI

The first hour of class will include a brief introduction to that week's topic by the instructor, followed by an extended discussion led by students assigned serve as moderators. As a preparation for the lecture and discussion, students will be asked to complete an average of three readings for each topic and to write a 250-word essay that discusses one or several of the readings the beginning of class each week (i.e., a total of 14 essays throughout the semester).

The instructor will make moderator assignments a week in advance and post the names of the moderators along with the list of readings. The essays are due by midnight the day before class (Monday midnight) and should be submitted to Canvas.

Module 2: Human Subjects Research Methods

A set of human-subjects research methods and procedures commonly used in HCI will be covered through lectures, tutorials, and weekly assignments. Lectures will be through online videos that students will be required to watch before class time, and class time will be used to discuss the lecture, run tutorials, work on assignments, and so on. Below is a list of the research methods and procedures that will be covered. 

  1. Introduction: Research methods in HCI
  2. Introduction: What are elements of a research project in HCI?
  3. Introduction: How to choose research designs?
  4. Introduction: Methodological fit
  5. Qualitative research: data collection
  6. Qualitative research: data analysis
  7. Quantitative research: Experimental design principles
  8. Quantitative research: Step-by-step experimental design
  9. Quantitative research: Measurement, Part I
  10. Quantitative research: Measurement, Part II
  11. Quantitative research: Measurement, Part III
  12. Quantitative research: Scale construction
  13. Quantitative research: Statistics, Part I
  14. Quantitative research: Statistics, Part II
  15. Quantitative research: Statistics, Part III

Students will practice a subset of these methods through six weekly assignments that include writing one-page reports of their process and findings. Students will submit their reports along with supplementary material to Canvas.

Module 3: Project

Students will conduct a semester-long team project to explore HCI research in critical and emerging domains of computing from envisioning novel uses of wearable computing to studying how people use and trust micro-finance practices. The goals of the project are: 

  • Completing the required human-subjects research training program and an Institutional Review Board (IRB) application for the project,
  • Gaining a theoretical and empirical understanding of the application domain,
  • Applying exploratory and experimental research methods in HCI, 
  • Prototyping user interfaces, 
  • Designing exploratory and experimental studies, 
  • Gaining experience in recruiting participants and conducting studies with human subjects, 
  • Creating generalizable knowledge on how computing can improve aspects of human life.

The third hour of the class will be devoted to interim and final project presentations, class discussion, project group work sessions, and feedback on student work. Project teams will consist of three students. Students will develop project topics and form tentative project teams in the first week of classes through a class-wide brainstorming session and through discussions with the instructor. Project teams and topics will be finalized by the second week of classes.

Project teams will informally present their progress at the milestones listed below (roughly every 2–3 weeks). Class times at other weeks will be used as work sessions. Below is the expected week-to-week timeline of the project, although students should expect changes in the timeline.

  1. Topic development – Project topics are discussed as a whole class, and tentative project teams are formed.
  2. Team formulation – Project teams are finalized and project topics are more formally defined. Project goals and timeline are discussed.
  3. Work session – Teams work and seek feedback from the instructor during class time.
  4. Preliminary presentation – Project teams will present their findings from a survey of previous work in the problem area. The goal of this stage is to identify significant but unexplored phenomena in the problem area that teams will focus on for their exploration.
  5. Work session – Teams work and seek feedback from the instructor during class time.
  6. Exploratory study design – The teams will present their plans for an exploratory study that they will conduct to gain a deeper understanding of the identiLied phenomena.
  7. Work session – Teams work and seek feedback from the instructor during class time.
  8. Exploratory study findings – Project teams will present the findings from their exploratory study and the implications of these findings for a follow-up experiment that will further reLine their understanding of the explored phenomena.
  9. Work session – Teams work and seek feedback from the instructor during class time.
  10. Experimental study design – Students will present the design of a follow-up experiment informed by the findings from their exploratory study.
  11. Work session – Teams work and seek feedback from the instructor during class time.
  12. Work session – Teams work and seek feedback from the instructor during class time.
  13. Experimental study findings – Teams will present the findings from their experimental study and discuss these findings in the light of the findings from their exploratory study.
  14. Work session – Teams work and seek feedback from the instructor during class time.
  15. Final – Project teams will present their overall project process and discuss the implications of their findings from the exploratory and experimental studies for HCI research and practice. Teams will also prepare their presentations in the form of a research poster and present their work to the department in a poster session that will be organized by the instructor.

Interim milestones will involve informal team presentations and classroom discussion. The final presentation will be formal and considered as the final exam of the class. The final presentation will be scheduled either on the last class of the semester or during the campus-designated final exam slot. 

Generally, all presentations should be no longer than 10 minutes and follow the formatting requirements described in the submission form for the presentation on Canvas. The teams are free in their choice of format for simulations or working prototypes as long as they can be viewed or executed in any platform (e.g., Java [.jar]). Teams will also deliver a four-page report of their process and findings following the ACM Conference Proceedings format by the day of the final presentation. More information on the requirements for the report will be included in the submission form on Canvas.


Material Submissions: All materials students prepare for any of the three modules of the class should be submitted online through Canvas by the deadline posted for the submission. Individual assignments can be submitted late only under unforeseen circumstances and when discussed with the instructor. Late submissions for team assignments will not be accepted. Unless otherwise noted, all essays should be submitted to Canvas as plain or rich text and all other documents should be in the Portable Document Format (.pdf). All presentations should be in Microsoft PowerPoint (.ppt) format. Submission formats for other materials will be specified in assignment handouts.

Grading criteria: Grading will be based on:

  • Essays on HCI principles: 15% 
    • Students will be evaluated based on the 250-word essays they will submit each week in response to the reading for Mobile 1.
  • Weeklong practice assignments on research methods: 30% 
    • Evaluation will be based on the six assignments (5 points each) that they will complete throughout the semester for Module 3.
  • Team projects: 50% 
    • Students will be evaluated based on their project progress, specifically creativity and care with which they develop their research, scientific rigor that they display in conducting their work, the quality of the final product of the project, and how well they work as a team.
  • Classroom participation: 5%
    • Evaluation will be based on student involvement in classroom discussions and overall attendance and engagement in class.

The first module (Principles of HCI) will be evaluated based on the quality of the written essays and contribution to classroom discussions. Assignments for the second module (Human Subjects Research Methods) will be evaluated based on the quality of the written report. The project module will be evaluated based on students’ performance in the project, e.g., conducting user studies, implementing prototypes, preparing demos/presentations, and working in groups. Finally, classroom participation will be involve evaluations of general professionalism, attitude toward coursework, and contribution to class.

Team Grading: At the end of the project, students will be asked to evaluate their own and their teammates’ performance. Team-member evaluations can influence a student’s course grade by up to 10%.

Scoring: As a rule of thumb, students who perform at or better than 80%, 87%, and 94% should expect to receive Bs, ABs, and As respectively, although actual cutoffs will change based on overall class performance. All other matters of scoring will follow university grade policies.


Communication: All class material will be available on the class Canvas page. Assignment handouts, readings, supplemental materials, and pointers to other resources will be posted on the course website. Announcements will be made through Canvas announcements. Students should set up their notification settings in Canvas in the way that supports receiving announcements on time. All class-related communication must be done using the Canvas messaging system. Email should not be used for class-related communication.

Office Hours: Office hours are the best time to get feedback from the instructor on assignments and projects. Other questions, concerns, individual issues, and team communication problems can be discussed by appointment. The instructor will also be available for questions via email anytime and phone during work hours.

Classroom recording: Because many of the pictures and videos we present in class are copyright-protected, no student may record or tape any classroom activity without the express written consent of the instructor. If a student has a disability that requires him/her to record or tape classroom activities, he/she should contact the UW-Madison McBurney Disability Resource Center to arrange an appropriate accommodation.

Attendance: Students are expected to attend class, arrive on time, participate on a team, and offer comments on readings. In addition, students are expected to offer feedback on and suggestions to improve their classmates’ work. If a student needs to miss a class, he/she should send the instructor a brief message ahead of time via Canvas messaging and be sure to inform his/her teammates that he/ she will not be attending.

Ethics: Students are highly encouraged to share and discuss ideas and required to work in groups for projects. Therefore, ethical and respectful treatment of others’ ideas is extremely important and will have an important effect on grading. Academic misconduct will be handled following university policies. It is recommended that students read the UW-Madison policies for student rights and responsibilities and academic misconduct.

Course Summary:

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