Syllabus: CSE 4663 / 6663 Human-Computer Interaction

Dr. J. Edward Swan II <>
Fall 2008
Course Time and Location
Mon and Wed, 3:30 pm–4:45 pm, 100 Butler Hall
Office Hours and Location
Mon and Wed, 4:45 pm–6:00 pm, 100 Butler Hall
Course Prerequisites
CSE 3813 (Introduction to Formal Languages and Automata) for CSE majors with a grade of C or better, consent of instructor for non-majors.  Note: this is an out-of-date requirement which I will seek to have changed this year; this course will have nothing to do with formal languages or automata.
Catalog Description
Three hours lecture. Conceptual models formed by users, aspects of computer systems which affect users, interface design and evaluation, and examples and critiques of specific interfaces.
Longer Description
Survey of human-computer interaction concepts, theory, and practice.  Basic components of human-computer interaction.  Interdisciplinary underpinnings.  Informed and critical evaluation of computer-based technology.  User-oriented perspective, rather than system-oriented, with two thrusts: human (cognitive, social) and technological (input/output, interactions styles, devices).  Design guidelines, evaluation methods, participatory design, communication between users and system developers.
Required Text
Ben Shneiderman and Catherine Plaisant, Designing the User Interface, 4th edition (2005), Pearson Education, Inc., ISBN 0-321-19786-0.

Grading Scale

90%–100% A
80%–89% B
70%–79% C
60%–69% D
0%–59% F

Graded Activities

Group Design Projects: 55%
Class Presentations and Assignments: 15%
Midterm Exam: 15%
Final Exam: 15%

Group Design Projects: The primary activity of this class will be collaboratively developing a series of user interface designs in an interdisciplinary small team format.

Class Presentations and Assignments: Students will make class presentations, and may complete additional assignments.  The class presentations will primarily involve demonstrating and analyzing user interfaces and interaction techniques.  Assignments may be in-class or take-home (homework).  In-class activities will have either a written component for students to prepare individually in advance, or a group assignment to be done in class.  Take-home assignments are due by class time on the due date; they will not be accepted after the beginning of class.

Mid-term Exam: There will be one in-class test near the middle of the semester.  The test will consist of short answer and essay questions.

Final Exam: The final exam will have the same format as the mid-term, and will be non-cumulative, covering only material from the second half of the semester.

Group Design Projects

In this class, students will spend the majority of their time designing and implementing user interface designs.  This will occur in small teams of students; we will aim for team sizes of 2–5 members.  Students will be randomly assigned to teams.  We will have 3–4 design projects this semester.  After each project, teams will disband and new teams will be formed.

During the design process, teams will present periodic progress reports in class.  On the day a design is due, teams will present their design to the class, and will turn in materials (drawings, mockups, slides, documents, source code, etc.) related to the design.

Grading: I will subjectively grade the interface designs.  The primary grading criteria will be the degree to which the design meets its assigned objectives.  Additional criteria may include evidence of how much effort the team has invested in the design, creativity, and the quality of submitted materials.  The result of this grading process will be a team grade

The baseline grade for each team member will be equal to the team grade, but may be modified up or down based on peer feedback and instructor feedback

Peer and Instructor Feedback: After each design is completed, team members will be asked to anonymously evaluate each other along dimensions related to contribution level and how easy they are to work with.  A team member's grade may be modified either up or down by this feedback.  Each team member will receive an anonymized version of this feedback.  In addition, I may further adjust a team member's grade up or down, based on my observation of the team member's contribution level, both to the development of the interface design as well as to the class as a whole.  I will communicate any such grade adjustment to each affected student. 

Peer and Instructor Feedback may adjust a team member's grade up or down by at most two letter grades (20% of the total points the design is worth). 

Missed Exams

Occasionally students miss examinations.  Sometimes the student knows about these absences in advance, and sometimes they happen unexpectedly.  If you know in advance that you will be absent and you wish to have the absence considered excused, then you must meet with me before the date of the exam, and I will let you know whether or not the absence will be excused.  If your excused absence will occur during an exam, then I will make arrangements for you to take the exam early.

If you miss an exam unexpectedly and wish to have the absence considered excused, then you must meet with the me at the earliest opportunity possible after the absence, and provide documentation to support your claim that the absence should be considered excused.  If the absence is excused, then I will substitute the average number of points of your other exams for the missed exam.

For unexcused absences from examinations you will unfortunately receive a score of zero points.

Academic Honesty / Misconduct and Collaboration

In this course, students are expected to uphold the Mississippi State University Honor Code:

"As a Mississippi State University student I will conduct myself with honor and integrity at all times. I will not lie, cheat, or steal, nor will I accept the actions of those who do."

Upon accepting admission to Mississippi State University, a student immediately assumes a commitment to uphold the Honor Code, to accept responsibility for learning, and to follow the philosophy and rules of the Honor Code.  Students will be required to state their commitment on examinations, research papers, and other academic work.  Ignorance of the rules does not exclude any member of the MSU community from the requirements or the processes of the Honor Code.

Students are also expected to maintain the standards of academic honesty that are described in the CSE Department's Undergraduate Studies Academic Honesty Policy (CSE 4663), or the CSE Department's Graduate Studies Academic Honesty Policy (CSE 6663). 

All work on homework assignments and exams is to be your own.  Projects are to be completed by the members of the project group.  Project reports should provide full citations for any sources (including articles, books, websites, etc.).  Plagiarism is strictly prohibited.  Do not turn in someone else's work as if it were your own.  This are important policies.  Not only will violators fail to learn the course material, but violators will receive an "XF" in this course, and will otherwise be handled according the CSE Department's Undergraduate or Graduate Studies Academic Honesty Policies, as well as the Academic Operating Policy and Procedure of Mississippi State University.

Additional Policies

Attendance and Audits: Attendance is required in this class.  Although attendance will not directly affect your grade, I will take roll, and I will list absences on midterm and final grade reports.  Students who miss class are still responsible for the material covered and for any assignments distributed.  Furthermore, as described above, students who are absent for an in-class group activity will not receive any credit for that activity.  Students who are auditing the course must attend at least 75% of the class meetings in order to receive a passing grade.

Personal Electronic Devices: Students must respect their fellow students and not disrupt class. Therefore, cell phones, pagers, other such alarms, or personal conversations which disturb the lecture are not allowed.  Students with personal laptops are encouraged to bring them to class; however, laptops are not required for this course.

Grade of Incomplete (I): Incomplete grades will only be given in extreme circumstances, such as illness, death in a student's immediate family, or similar circumstances beyond a student's control.

No Food or Drinks in Class: It is the CSE department's policy that you can't eat or dink in Butler 100.

Drop / Add Policy: This class follows Mississippi State University's Official Drop/Add Policy:

Add/drop without penalty: A student has through the fifth class day into the semester to add a course and through the tenth class day to drop a course without being assessed a fee or academic penalty.

Drop after the tenth class day through the 30th class day into the semester: A student who elects to drop a course during this period must receive the approval of his/her advisor, will be assigned a W on his/her academic record, and be assessed a fee. The advisor who permits the drop will specify its effective date.

Drop after the 30th class day into the semester: A student cannot drop courses after this period except in documented cases of serious illness, extreme hardship, or failure of the instructor to provide significant assessment of his/her performance. A request to drop a course during this period must be approved by the student's advisor and academic dean. The dean who permits the drop will specify its effective date. A student receiving permission to drop will receive a W on his/her academic record and be assessed a fee.

Faculty are expected to provide a student with significant evidence or assessment of his/her class performance within the first 30 days of the semester.

Last modified: November 05, 2008